While a lot of attention is paid to flatfeet and pronation, high-arched feet carry their own set of possible complications. A high arched foot is also referred to as a cavus foot. Some people are born with feet that develop into having high arches, inherited from their parents similarly to people with a flat foot structure. Other people are born with inherited neuromuscular disorders that present with very high arched feet.
A very high arched foot can be associated with conditions such as Charcot Marie Tooth and muscular dystrophy. In very high arched feet, it is essential to determine if there is a neurological cause, as these conditions extend beyond the shape of one's foot. Charcot Marie Tooth is a genetic condition which affects peripheral nerves - or those nerves that are far from the spinal cord and brain. When these nerves are not functioning properly, certain muscles pull more than others creating the deformity in the foot. Over time, this condition can cause numbness in the feet, foot drop, and problems with balance.
A high arched foot which has been determined not to have a neurological cause can still be troublesome. Similarly to high arched feet due to neurological causes, those not from neurological disease function with more stress on the outer portion of the foot and ankle. This can cause chronic ankle sprains and tendonitis on the outside of the ankle. Because the arch of the foot is so high, the foot is unable to transfer weight effectively across the entire bottom of the foot. Rather, the foot functions as a tripod, putting a greater amount of pressure to three main areas: the heel, under the great toe joint and under the baby toe joint. With this increase in pressure comes calluses and over time fat pad atrophy. Without adequate "cushion" to the bottoms of the feet, the feet can become very painful unless wearing very cushioned shoes and/or custom inserts to redistribute the pressures of the foot.
Some high arched feet are flexible and some are more rigid. In a foot that has a high arch and is flexible, the foot may collapse to some degree when weight is placed on the foot. This can cause jamming of the joints on the top of the foot, leading to arthritis and bone spurs. In a more rigid high arched foot, the pressure on the heel and forefoot are typically the primary cause of discomfort. However, the inability to adequately absorb shock from daily activity can place undue stress on the joints above the foot, such as the knees, hip and even back.
If you think you have a high arched foot and have foot pain, contact our office today for an appointment. There are many simple ways to improve the condition of your feet and aid your body in absorbing shock to prevent future pain and injury.