If you have had the privilege of standing under the vaulted arches of a 12th century cathedral, you know how impressive they are. Those soaring curved arches provide stability and structure to the entire building. The arches of your feet perform the same function, giving you a stable basis for standing and moving about. If your arches are too high, however—a condition called cavus foot—they can end up giving you problems as well.
Soaring Arches Cause Painful Symptoms
The medical term for a high arch is pes cavus—literally hollow foot. If you walk on a wet sandy beach your footprints will be distinctive: the ball and heel are clearly seen, but the area between is almost invisible. You can see the same pattern with a wet foot test on a piece of absorbent paper. The middle of your foot almost seems to be hollowed out. The top of your foot may look high and rounded, and your heel may tilt inward, making your ankle unstable.
The condition is associated with several problems, including pain when standing, walking, or running; corns and calluses on the ball of your foot and heel; tight lower calf muscles; and stiff, inflexible arches. All of these can put you more at risk for ankle sprains. They can also contribute to the formation of hammertoes or claw toes.
Cavus Foot Causes and Getting Diagnosed
Many times, high arches are caused by neurological conditions, including cerebral palsy, polio, spina bifida, and muscular dystrophy. Nerve damage from a stroke can also be a factor. In some, it may be an inherited condition, and in others, it is impossible to know exactly why the foot formed this way.
A visit to Dr. David Guhl and Dr. Amy Miller-Guhl will tell you whether you have this problem. We will review your family history, examine your foot for the symptoms listed, and ask about any other conditions you may have that could affect your foot development. Observing the wear pattern on your shoes and how you walk will tell us a lot about your feet, and we may test your muscle strength, or order X-rays or a neurological exam for further information.
Simple Treatments May Help
Many people with cavus foot can find relief from the pain with shoe modifications, such as higher tops that give more support to your ankle, or wider heels that provide more stability. Orthotics that fit into your shoe can also provide support to the foot and cushion painful areas. If your high arches have a neurological cause, they may be accompanied by foot drop—the inability to lift the front of your foot when walking. Braces can help stabilize your feet and keep your foot in the right position to make walking easier.
If none of these methods relieve your pain, you may want to consider surgery. This always involves some risk, so we will explain the procedures and help you decide whether this is the best course for you. Give Waukesha Foot Specialists in Waukesha, WI, a call at (262) 544-0700. Our expert staff is here to help you find answers to your foot pain.