Best Treatments for the High Arched (Cavus) Foot

The person with a very high arched foot often has pain and foot problems specific to their high arch. A 2005 study of foot types showed that about 15% of the population has a higher than normal arch (also know as a pes cavus foot) and 60% of those with cavus feet have foot pain (1). Another study showed that 65% of people with cavus feet have foot pain weekly, compared with only 23% of those with normal arch height (2).

Video: Problems Associated with High Arches

What Problems are Caused by High Arched Feet?

high arched foot

Many of the problems that people with high arched feet experience are due to the fact that they bear all of their weight on a small area of the foot (the ball-of-the-foot and the heel). This increases pressure under these areas and leads to pain. In addition, it makes the foot less stable. Some common problems that are seen in people with cavus feet include:

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Treatment Goals for Problems Caused by High Arched Feet

The goal when treating a person with problems due to a high arch is to spread the weight over a larger area of the foot and to increase the stability of the foot. This can usually be accomplished with the use of an orthotic device. Studies in 2000 and 2006 (2, 3) indicated that the orthotic must be prescribed so it conforms extremely close to the arch of the foot. This is called a “total contact orthotic“.

Best Orthotics for High Arched Feet

How Orthotics Should be Made to Work Best for High Arches

Video: Best Orthotics for High Ached Feet

One of the most important factors in getting the best outcome is to ensure that orthotics conform very closely to the arch of the foot. This is demonstrated in the picture below. Note how the arch of the orthotic perfectly matches the arch of the foot. Unfortunately, many orthotics are made that do not match the arch very well and thus are not very effective at reducing pain.

prefabricated orthotics high arched foot

Studies of pressure inside the shoe when wearing orthotics show that an orthotic that conforms closely to the arch will significantly reduce pressure. The pictures below show pressure of the same foot inside a shoe with and without an orthotic. Red indicates greater pressure. Note on the image with no orthotic, left side, there is substantially more pressure under the heel and under the ball of the foot. The picture on the right, with an orthotic, has decreased the pressure significantly.

With correctly prescribed custom orthotics most pain due to high arches can be relieved. If you have high arches and would like us to evaluate your feet, contact us to make an appointment in our Seattle office. If you already have orthotics that you would like us to evaluate, be sure to bring them to your appointment.

Call 206-344-3808 or go here to schedule an appointment online.

What are the Best Prefabricated Orthotics for High Arched Feet?

FootChair Adjustable Arch Orthotic

Prefabricated orthotics usually do not conform close enough to the arch to provide the same benefit as a total contact custom orthotic but they can still help. The best prefabricated orthotic for high arches will be one with a higher than average arch height. Our favorite for cavus feet is the FootChair Podiatrist Designed Orthotic with adjustable arch height.

FootChair is a very unique orthotic as the arch height is adjustable via pads that can be inserted into a pocket under the cover. This is particularly important for people with a high arch because there are few if any OTC orthotics made with a high arch.

You can try the FootChair arch support for a few weeks.  If you don’t see improvement by then, see a podiatrist who specializes in orthotic therapy for a full workup.

Sandals and Slippers for High Arched Feet

Also the use of Vionic sandals can be helpful. These sandals, slippers and flip–flops have a great arch support built wave-arch-flip-flop-sansalin and they work great for those of you with very high arches. These are by far the best flip-flops we have found. You can see the entire selection of Vionic sandals here.

References on High Arched Feet

  • Burns J, Crosbie J, Hunt A, Ouvrier R: The effect of pes cavus on foot pain and plantar pressure: Clinical Biomechanics, 2005
  • Burns J, Crosbie J, Hunt A, Ouvrier R: The effect of pes cavus on foot pain and plantar pressure: Clinical Biomechanics, 2005
  • Chalmers AC, et al: Metatarsalgia and RA- a randomized, single blind, sequential trial comparing 2 types of foot orthoses and supportive shoes: J Rheumatol, 2000

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