Cavus foot is a serious condition and can be a challenging problem if left neglected. It may affect one or both feet, and the severity differs from person to person. Based on reported cases, only a few patients with high-arched foot experience discomfort, which is why the condition is often not recognized or understood. Some people who have cavus foot believe the high arch is part of their normal skeletal structure. Read on to find out how to properly identify acavus foot deformity and when you should see a doctor.
Cavus foot is also called pes cavus, high instep, supinated foot, or talipes cavus. It is a deformity in which the foot has a high arch. This condition typically produces the appearance of a large space under the foot. The toes and heel are drawn inward.
When standing or walking, excessive weight puts too much pressure on the ball and ankle of your foot. The high arches can either be flexible (the arch may move to a lower height) or rigid (the arch doesn’t move to a lower height). At first, the heel tilting is flexible. As time goes by, however, the joints and tissues become stiff and the heel tilt becomes fixed.
Cavus Foot Types
Doctors categorize pes cavus in two ways: congenital and idiopathic. A large retrospective survey discovered that more than 80% of cavus foot patients suffer from the idiopathic form, compared to the 19% with the neuromuscular type. Other studies, though, reveal the opposite. Here are the two major classifications ofcavus foot deformity.
1. Idiopathic Cavus Foot
Idiopathic cavus foot has only been recognized over the past decade. Brian Graham, C. Ped. and Dr. Arthur Manoli II, M.D., invented the term “subtle cavus foot.” This means the deformity is mild and the foot shape is identified as non-neurologic. Diagnosing idiopathic cavus foot requires a thorough clinical assessment.
2. Congenital Cavus Foot
Cavus foot has long been linked to congenital diseases that result in a characteristic deformity. Conditions such as hereditary sensorimotor neuropathy and polio can cause an imbalance of lower limb muscles, which leads to cavus foot and a multitude of symptoms.
What Causes Cavus Foot?
Cavus foot does not have an exact cause, but the medical community shares three possible scenarios that lead to apes cavus foot deformity.
Severe foot trauma could cause cavus foot. Examples include burns, crush injury, compartment syndrome, and fractures.
Cerebral palsy and residual clubfoot may lead to the development of cavus foot.
This affects the muscles and nerves, which result in the deformity of the foot. Medical professionals note a few neuromuscular conditions that could be the culprit, the most likely of which are poliomyelitis, spinal cord tumor, muscular dystrophy, and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.
Symptoms of Cavus Foot
The high arches associated with pes cavus foot disperse pressure in an unhealthy manner. ( Image Reference)
Pes cavus foot may result in a variety of signs and symptoms, which vary with the degree of deformity. Symptoms also depend on your activity level and the occupational demands placed on your high-arched foot. If you’re experiencing any of the below symptoms, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
Claw toes (toes clenched like a fist)
Hammertoes (bent toes)
Tight Achilles tendons
Shortened foot length
Difficulty finding the right footwear
Discomfort near and in the ankle joint
Stress fractures of the metatarsals and other bones in the foot
Instability of the ankle with frequent sprains
Pain while walking, running, or even standing
Stiffness in the lower leg and foot joints that lead to inactivity
An unstable foot because of the heel tilting inward
Calluses on the side, heel, or ball of the foot
Diagnosing Cavus Foot
Your doctor will begin by inquiring about your symptoms and performing a physical exam to check for deformity. Because the condition is linked to other diseases, your doctor will also check lower body strength, spinal alignment, and reflexes.
Your doctor may require cavus foot pictures to render a diagnosis and may order tests such as a radiograph or MRI scan.
Treatment Options for Cavus Foot Deformity
Don’t let your condition leave you uncomfortable and ruin your mobility. Reduce the risk of progression by arming yourself with information about treatment methods. Here are a few available options.
Cavus Foot Shoes
A pair of shoes with great cushioning makes walking more comfortable and eases the pressure from painful areas. Make sure there is enough space in your shoes so your toes are not rubbing roughly. If you jog or play sports, look for high-top shoes with shock-absorbing material to support your ankle, as well as shoes with wide heels for stability. Talk to an orthotist about fitting you for shoes, and use insoles when necessary.
Your doctor may recommend a custom cavus foot orthotic device that fits perfectly into your shoe. It provides cushioning and stability to the foot. Custom orthotics are a good choice, but some pre-made orthotics work just as well. The Envelop full-length orthotics, for example, were designed by podiatrists, so you’re getting the same quality as custom orthotics for a fraction of the cost.
An arch support provides stability and support to protect your foot from further damage. ( See Product on Amazon)
A doctor will prescribe a brace to help keep your ankle and foot stable. An arch supportuses gel to support your arch and protect against re-injury and to manage foot drop. They’re super comfortable—you can wear them all day.
An ankle brace will keep your joint stable while your cavus foot heals. You don’t want to add a twisted ankle into the mix!
Cavus Foot Exercises
You can perform basic cavus foot exercises at home to relieve discomfort and manage early-stage deformity. Be sure to consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen.
Step 1: Put your fingers between each of your toes.
Step 2: Squeeze your toes together and hold the position for at least 10 seconds.
Step 3: Relax and repeat.
Step 1: Sit with your feet in front of you. Put a towel around the ball of your foot.
Step 2: Flex your foot and pull back the towel gently with your hands.
Step 3: Repeat 2 to 5 times to stretch your toes.
Bent-Knee Wall Stretch
Step 1: Stand a foot from a wall and place your palms against it.
Step 2: Bend both your knees and slightly lean forward. Make sure your heels are flat on the floor.
Step 3: Repeat this exercise several times per day.
Golf Ball Pick-Up
Step 1: Pick up a golf ball from the floor using only your toes.
Step 2: Try to put the golf ball into a bucket.
Step 3: If the golf ball is too difficult for you, use marbles or a wash cloth.
Cavus Foot Surgery
In severe cases, cavus foot surgery is necessary to lower the arch. The goal of this procedure is to improve function and alleviate pain, and to decrease the risk of other injuries such as broken bones and repeated ankle sprains. Depending on the nature of the deformity and related problems, surgical procedures may involve a tendon transfer, osteotomy, fusion, release of plantar fascia, or removal of part of the toe bones. Cavus foot surgery recovery time is typically six to twelve months.
Recovering from Cavus Foot
Correcting a cavus foot deformity can be a difficult undertaking. It is important to have a complete understanding of the classifications, causes, symptoms, and appropriate treatment methods. Whether your condition requires surgery or bracing, fixing a high-arched foot can be simple. Contact your podiatrist immediately to discuss your goals and preserve your joint motion so you make a full recovery.
Jessica Hegg is the content manager at ViveHealth.com. Avid gym-rat and nutrition enthusiast, she’s interested in all things related to staying active and living healthy lifestyle. Through her writing she works to share valuable information aimed at overcoming obstacles and improving the quality of life for others.
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