East Coast Podiatry
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Last Updated: 30 Aug 2021

Painful High Arches: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

High-arch feet, also known as cavus feet, are characterised by weight placed towards the outer edge of the foot during movement. Individuals with high arches usually suffer from have poor shock absorption as most of their weight falls on the heel and ball of the foot, which can lead to a variety of painful foot conditions.

In most cases, a high arch is hereditary, but if the arch is excessively high or has fluctuations in height over a period, this can be suggestive of other underlying medical conditions. These include neurological conditions, cerebral palsy, polio, muscular dystrophy, and/or stroke, and are likely to negatively affect your arches over time.


The diagnosis of a cavus foot involves a physical examination and musculoskeletal assessment. A podiatrist will observe your gait pattern as well as for any indications of a high-arch foot, such as calluses on the outer aspect of the foot or the presence of hammertoes. X-rays and diagnostic imaging may also be required for angulation evaluation or to obtain an overview of any underlying injuries. Following this, an appropriate treatment plan will be formulated to rectify arch-caused injuries or as a form of management to prevent possible conditions in the future.

Orthotics Shoe Insoles

Treatment and Management

Having high-arched feet alone is not an immediate call for treatment, but take care to seek a podiatrist promptly if pain is felt or you notice the onset of added conditions. Podiatrists utilise conservative treatment modalities such as Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) or Super Inductive System (SIS) treatment to relax the affected tissues, improve blood flow, stimulate healing and reduce pain. Individuals with high arches should monitor for significant fluctuations in arch height as this may signify a problem with underlying neurological problems and will require in-depth evaluation and closer follow ups.

Preventative measures can be prescribed in the form of custom orthotic devices to reduce pain, pressure and increase stability across the foot. This helps to reduce the likelihood of probable future problems occurring, or offload body weight from already injured feet to prevent further deterioration.

If you or your child have high-arch feet and seem to be experiencing an onset of conditions, do see a podiatrist for a prompt diagnosis. This ensures that no underlying medical issues are neglected while also ensuring that a relevant treatment plan can be conducted if necessary. Early management and treatment is important to preventing future detrimental foot problems from happening or getting worse.

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