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Alternative NamesPes cavus; High foot arch
Definition Return to top
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.
Causes Return to top
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 Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
Treatment Return to top
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) Return to top
The expectations depend on the underlying neurological condition, although in mild cases, appropriate shoe wear and arch supports may provide welcome relief.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if you suspect you are having foot pain related to high arches.
Prevention Return to top
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.Update Date: 12/1/2008 Updated 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.