High arch

Definition

High arch is an excessively raised arch (also called instep) on the bottom of the foot. The arch runs from the toes to the heel. It is also called pes cavus.

High arch is the opposite of flat feet.

Alternative Names

Pes cavus; High foot arch

Causes

High foot arches are much less common than flat feet. However, they are more likely to be associated with an orthopedic or neurological conditions. Neuromuscular diseases that cause changes in muscle tone may lead to the development of high arches.

Unlike flat feet, highly arched feet tend to be painful because more stress is placed on the section of the foot between the ankle and the toes (metatarsals). This condition generally makes it difficult to fit shoes. In addition, those with high arches usually need foot support. A high arch may cause significant disability.

Symptoms

  • Shortened length of foot
  • Difficulty fitting shoes
  • Foot pain associated with walking, standing, and running

Exams and Tests

Treatment

Corrective shoes may help to relieve pain and can improve walking. This includes orthopedic modifications to the shoes, such as an arch insert and a support insole. Surgery to flatten the foot is sometimes necessary in severe cases. Any underlying neurological problems, if present, must be treated by appropriate specialists.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The expectations depend on the underlying neurological condition, although in mild cases, appropriate shoe wear and arch supports may provide welcome relief.

Possible Complications

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you suspect you are having foot pain related to high arches.

Prevention

People with highly arched feet should be evaluated for underlying neurological and orthopedic conditions. Identifying these other conditions may help prevent or lessen impending arch problems.


Review Date: 12/1/2008
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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