Many structures in your body work with opposing motions. You have pairs of muscles that allow your limbs to either push or pull, as well as raise or lower, as needed. Sometimes conditions in your body have “opposites,” too—like the height of your arches. Most people are aware that you can develop an abnormally low midfoot, known as “flat feet.” You can, however, have abnormally high arches instead in a condition called cavus foot. Either condition can lead to severe foot pain if left untreated.
The Effects of a High Arch
Cavus foot is an unusual condition that results in an arch that is higher than normal. This can be the result of a natural problem called pes cavus. It can also stem from a serious neurological disorder. In either case, this condition is far less common than its opposite—flat feet. High arches present several mechanical problems for your lower limbs that lead to discomfort. Because the middle of the foot doesn’t “give” when you take a step, you do not absorb shock efficiently. Your weight isn’t well-supported or evenly-distributed, either. Instead, it is directed onto the heel bone and the ball of the foot.
All of this together leads to arch pain, metatarsalgia, and heel pain. Calluses on the back, sides, and ball of the foot are common. You are more prone to digital deformities like hammertoes or claw toes, too. You will likely underpronate, or direct your pressure to the outside edge of the feet, when you walk. The heel can end up tilting inward and making the foot unstable as well. This increases your risk for repeated sprains.
The Underlying Issues
Since cavus foot usually refers to high arches that are connected to neurological disorders, the problem can be quite serious. A naturally high midfoot won’t change shape over time. However, an issue related to a systemic disorder can get worse. This can make the lower limbs increasingly uncomfortable and difficult to use. Depending on the disease, the problem can be present in childhood or develop later in life. It may affect just one or both feet. Spina bifida, polio, muscular dystrophy, Charcot-Marie-Tooth, and stroke are among the common culprits.
Supporting the Arches to Relieve the Pain
Taking care of high arches, particularly if they are related to a neurological disorder, has to have multiple parts. The underlying, serious medical condition that led to the midfoot problems need to be addressed, and the feet will need to be accommodated. Mark Gasparini, D.P.M., and our staff here in Massapequa, New York, will carefully evaluate your lower limbs and run tests to diagnose your condition. This might mean using X-rays to assess the extent of the problem, as well. Once we have a clear picture of your arches and the disorders that are influencing them, we will begin therapy to relieve your discomfort.
Taking care of any neurological disorders involves a variety of treatments to deal directly with the disease. This requires a neurologist’s input. Our team can handle the effects in your feet, however. Simply supporting the raised arches can make a difference for your discomfort. Typically this involves modifying your shoes. Stick to footwear that has cushioning around the midfoot to help pad the arch. You’ll need models with plenty of room for the top of the foot. A high-top shoe helps stabilize the ankle. A wide heel does the same for the back of the foot.
You may also need orthotics. Custom inserts are designed to help correct biomechanical issues and alleviate foot pain. This can support your midfoot and help you walk more naturally. Advanced cases of cavus foot may need full braces to stabilize the lower limbs. Braces can also help accommodate complications that sometimes develop, like foot drop. If the problem is particularly severe and conservative methods are not helpful, you may need surgery to correct the arch shape and relieve pain.
Problems with cavus foot can make performing normal tasks and activities uncomfortable for you. In many cases, they also signal a much larger neurological problem. Don’t ignore issues with a high arch, especially if it seems to be getting worse. Let Foot Specialist of Long Island help you by alleviating your pain. Contact our Massapequa office for an appointment by calling (516) 804-9038.
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