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.


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
  • Hammer toes
  • Claw toes
  • Calluses
  • Foot drop—the foot does not flex up
  • Instability

Claw Toes
claw toe

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You will be asked 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. It may be moved 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 treatment plan for you. Options include the following:

Supportive Devices

Changes may need to be made to provide foot support:

  • Orthotic devices are custom-made inserts placed into shoes that provide support, stability, and cushioning.
  • Soft-soled shoes, wider shoes, and high-topped shoes may help manage symptoms.
  • Braces may be advised to position the foot or to treat foot drop, which can interfere with normal walking.
  • Pads may be advised to cushion your feet to prevent corns and calluses from forming.


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 Podiatric Medical Association

Foot Health Facts—American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons


Canadian Federation of Podiatric Medicine

Canadian Podiatric Medical Association


Cavus foot (high-arched foot). American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons website. Available at: Accessed February 22, 2018.

Pes cavus. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated September 26, 2017. Accessed February 7, 2018.

Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT, GCS  Last Updated: 4/29/2014