East Coast Podiatry
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Last Updated: 21 May 2019

Painful High Arches: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

The foot is generally divided into three main arch types, low, normal and high arch. The high arch foot type is also known as the pes cavus or cavoid foot. In a high arch foot, excessive weight is placed on the ball and heel of the foot when walking or standing, leading to problems such as foot pain, gait instability, metatarsalgia or plantar fasciitis. Problems associated with a high arch can develop at any age in either one foot or both feet.

Whilst high arch foot is a structural presentation of the foot, it may also be suggestive of other medical conditions, especially those associated with neurological (nerves) conditions, to clinicians. Some of these conditions include cerebral palsy, polio, muscular dystrophy and/or stroke. In some cases, a high arch is inherited through either parent. If you or your child has been identified as having a high arch, you should seek out a health professional such as a podiatrist to ensure that there are no underlying medical issues that are detrimental to your foot health.

Signs and symptoms

High arches are not necessarily indicative of a medical issue, but the signs and symptoms associated with high arch may contribute to other secondary issues that can affect your daily living such as:

  • Hammertoes – clawing of the toes
  • Hard skin or callus formation on the ball or side of the foot
  • Pain when standing and walking
  • Risk of ankle injury and sprains


Podiatrists utilises conservative treatment modalities to prevent your condition from deteriorating to the point where surgical intervention is required. These non-invasive options may include shockwave or ultrasound therapy to relax tissue, improve blood flow and reduce pain.

In most cases, custom orthotic devices are the optimal treatment modality for your high arch. These podiatrist prescribed orthotics are designed to conform closely to the arch of your foot, thus reducing pressure, increasing stability and providing pain relief.

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