Cavus foot is a term that is used to describe a foot with a very high arch. Due to the high arch, extra pressure is placed on the heel and ball of the foot when standing, resulting in pain, instability, and poor posture.
Who is at Risk for Cavus Foot?
Cavus foot is a condition that can develop in one or both feet and it can affect anyone at any age although it is most prevalent in those suffering from certain neurological conditions like cerebral palsy, spina bifida, polio, muscular dystrophy, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, or stroke. Some cases of cavus foot can also be genetic in nature.
Signs and Symptoms of Cavus Foot
The most noticeable sign of cavus foot is when the foot has a very high arch when standing. Other signs and symptoms can include:
- Claw toes
- Calluses on the ball or on side or heel of the foot
- Instability caused by the heel tilting inward
- Frequent ankle sprains
- Foot drop (a weakening of the muscles in the foot and ankle that results in the foot being dragged when walking)
- Pain when walking or standing
How is Cavus Foot Diagnosed?
Cavus foot is diagnosed by using several pieces of information, including the patient’s family medical history, a physical examination of the affected foot, and a foot test to examine the patient’s coordination, walking pattern, and muscle strength. The surgeon may also examine the patient’s shoes for signs of wear in a pattern associated with the condition. In some cases, x-rays may be ordered to further assess the condition and if a neurological cause is believed to be in existence, then the patient may be referred to a neurologist for further evaluation.
Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Cavus Foot
Cavus foot can sometimes be successfully treated without surgery in cases where a neurological disorder is not the cause. Typical conservative options include:
- Orthotic devices
- Specially-designed shoe modifications
- Leg and foot braces
When is Surgery Needed?
If the patient has not been able to be effectively treated by non-surgical methods, then surgery may be required. In cases where a neurological disorder is present, surgery may help reduce the pain and help improve stability for a certain period of time, after which additional surgery may be required due to the ongoing progression of the disorder. In either case, you surgeon will discuss all of the surgical treatment options available to you so you can make the most informed decision about your treatment plan.