High arches, or cavus foot, often develops due to neurological disorders or medical conditions such as muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, polio or stroke. In other cases, however, high arches come from an inherited structural abnormality.
High arches can cause the ball and heel of the foot to carry more weight than normal. This excess weight can cause pain, instability and other symptoms. The condition can develop at any age and may occur in one foot or in both.
A correct diagnosis is important because the cause of the ailment determines its future course. When a neurological disorder or other medical condition has caused the high arch, the condition may continue to worsen. Otherwise, the condition usually does not change in appearance.
In many cases, the condition can be treated without surgery. Orthotic devices can be placed in the shoe of someone suffering from high arches to provide cushioning and stability. Shoe modifications also help. High-topped shoes provide support, and wider heels on the bottom of shoes can improve stability. Braces can also be used to help stabilize the foot and ankle. If these treatments do not help, surgery may be needed to reduce pain, increase stability and improve weakness.