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Pes Cavus

(Cavus Foot; High Arched Foot; Claw Foot)

Pronounced: pez cay-vus
En Español (Spanish Version)

Definition | Causes | Risk Factors | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | Prevention


Pes cavus is an abnormally high arched foot. People with this condition place too much weight and stress on the ball and heel of the foot when standing or walking. This condition can begin at any age.


Pes cavus can be caused by an underlying disease, injury, or an inherited foot problem. Causes include:

Risk Factors

Pes cavus has a tendency to run in families. If you have a family member with very high arches, then you may be at increased risk for developing pes cavus.


Symptoms associated with pes cavus include:

  • Foot pain
  • Stiff joints
  • Pain when standing and/or walking
  • Hammertoes
  • Claw toes
  • Calluses
  • Foot drop—the foot does not flex up
  • Instability

Claw Toes

claw toe
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Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You will also be asked about your family medical history. Your foot will be examined closely. Your doctor may move it around to assess range of motion.

You may be referred to a specialist. An orthopedist specializes in bones. Podiatrists specialize in feet. The condition may be caused by a nervous system condition. In this case your doctor may refer you to a neurologist.

Images may need to be taken of your foot. This can be done with x-rays.


Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Options include the following:

Orthotic devices are custom-made inserts placed into shoes. They can provide support, stability, and cushioning to the feet.

In some cases, changing shoes is used to treat pes cavus. Soft-soled shoes, wider shoes, and high-topped shoes may all be helpful in managing the symptoms.

Braces may also be used to position the foot or treat foot drop. In foot drop, the foot does not lift properly. This can interfere with normal walking.

If you have corns or calluses on your feet, your doctor will remove them. You may be given pads to cushion your feet so further corns and calluses don’t develop.

In some cases, medical treatment is not effective, so surgery is considered. The type of surgery depends on what is causing the pes cavus. One type of surgery, called an osteotomy removes part of the bone to correct the deformity.


There are no known guidelines to prevent pes cavus from developing.


American Academy of Family Physicians


American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons


American Podiatric Medical Association



Canadian Federation of Podiatric Medicine


Canadian Podiatric Medical Association



Cavus foot (high-arched foot). American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.foothealthfacts.org/Content.aspx?id=1409&terms=cavus%20foot. Updated December 18, 2009. Accessed May 1, 2013.

Shoe inserts and prescription custom orthotics. American Podiatric Medical Association website. Available at: http://www.apma.org/Learn/FootHealth.cfm?ItemNumber=988. Accessed May 1, 2013.

Pes cavus. DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Accessed January 19, 2011. Accessed May 1, 2013.

Skinner HB. Current Orthopedics. 4th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Companies;2006: Chapter 9, Foot & Ankle Surgery.

Last reviewed May 2013 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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