What is a high arched foot?

How do arches develop?

Almost all babies are born with flat feet, which continues into childhood. Babies and children have flexible bones and joints, causing their feet to flatten when they stand.

But as children grow, their feet become less flexible. The tissues in the feet tighten and form an arch with the foot bones. Most people develop arches before age six. Your arches are usually about the same shape and size on both feet.

In some people, their feet develop higher-than-normal arches in the arch that runs from the toes to the heel on the bottom of the foot. The medical term for high arches is pes cavus, and it is the opposite of flat feet. High arches can appear in children, but usually create don't create problems until people get older.

Why are high arches a problem?

High foot arches are much less common than flat feet. They are usually caused by a nerve or bone condition. High arches, unlike flat feet, are often painful and can be a disability. They can also make it hard to fit into shoes.

When you have high arches, your feet can't absorb shock well when you walk or run. Over time, the stress on the ball and heel of the foot can cause pain in the feet, which can radiate up to your ankle, leg, thigh and hip. This pain comes from the high stress placed on the back of the foot when your heel strikes the floor.

People with high arches may need special shoes or insoles to help the shoes fit properly and give their feet enough support.


With high arches, when you stand, the inside of your foot looks hollow. Your body is bearing most of your weight on the heel and ball of your foot. Other symptoms of high arches may include:

  • A hard time finding shoes that fit because of the curve of your foot
  • Shortened foot length
  • Foot pain from standing, running, or walking that may radiate upward to the angle, leg, thigh, and even hip

When to See a Doctor

Arch pain is a progressive condition that can contribute to other serious conditions. If you have pain or numbness in your feet, see a healthcare provider for a diagnosis and treatment.


Doctors don’t always know the reason for high arches. They can be inherited. They can be caused by trauma (injury) to the foot. High arches can be caused by other foot problems, such as club foot. They may also happen along with other bone or muscle conditions.

Diagnosis, Treatments, & Prevention

Diagnosis & Tests

You may need to see a doctor who specializes in the foot and ankle, called a podiatrist. Your doctor will do a physical exam of your feet and check to see how flexible they are. They will look at your feet as you stand. They may watch what your feet look like as you walk.

They may also do some tests on your foot bones or other areas where you may feel pain, including:

  • X-rays of your feet or spine
  • Electromyography
  • Nerve conduction studies
  • MRI on your spine

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