The arch of a cavus foot will appear high even when standing. In addition, one or more of the following symptoms may be present:
- Hammertoes (bent toes) or claw toes (toes clenched like a fist)
- Calluses on the ball, side or heel of the foot
- Pain when standing or walking
- An unstable foot due to the heel tilting inward, which can lead to ankle sprains
Some people with cavus foot may also experience foot drop, a weakness of the muscles in the foot and ankle that results in dragging the foot when taking a step. Foot drop is usually a sign of an underlying neurologic condition.
Diagnosis of cavus foot includes a review of the patient’s family history. The foot and ankle surgeon examines the foot, looking for a high arch and possible calluses, hammertoes and claw toes. The foot is tested for muscle strength, and the patient’s walking pattern and coordination are observed. If a neurologic condition appears to be present, the entire limb may be examined. The surgeon may also study the pattern of wear on the patient’s shoes.
X-rays are sometimes ordered to further assess the condition. In addition, the surgeon may refer the patient to a neurologist for a complete neurologic evaluation.
Nonsurgical treatment of cavus foot may include one or more of the following options:
- Orthotic devices. Custom orthotic devices that fit into the shoe can be beneficial because they provide stability and cushioning to the foot.
- Shoe modifications. High-topped shoes support the ankle, and shoes with heels a little wider on the bottom add stability.
- Bracing. The surgeon may recommend a brace to help keep the foot and ankle stable. Bracing is also useful in managing foot drop.