Bone, Joint and Muscle Conditions

Cavus Foot

What Is Cavus Foot?

Typical cavus foot. Courtesy of 'Fundamentals of Pediatric Orthopedics', 2003, Lippincott Williams and Wilkins ©

Typical cavus foot.

Children with cavus foot have arches that are much higher than usual. Often, their heels point inward, and all of their toes are flexed.

Children with cavus foot have trouble finding shoes that fit. The tops and middles of their feet become sore. They may have pain, and develop thick calluses under the ball and at the outer edges of their feet.

Because their high arches make their ankles roll outward slightly, children with cavus foot may feel like their ankles are about to give out. Sometimes they sprain their ankles over and over again.

Cavus Foot in Children

Cavus foot. Photo by Vincent S. Mosca, MD.

Cavus foot.

Children are rarely born with this problem. Instead, cavus foot usually develops slowly over the first 10 years of life.

In almost all cases, children develop cavus foot because they have a nerve or muscle disease. The disease makes some of the muscles weaker than others. These unbalanced muscles work unevenly, which causes the high arch and other signs of cavus foot.

An inherited disorder called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is the most common cause of cavus foot. But there is a long list of disorders that may cause the problem. Children who have muscular dystrophy (MD) and spina bifida, for example, are more likely than others to develop cavus foot in both feet.

Cavus foot can affect only one foot, too. Cavus foot in one foot is more common in children with injuries to the nerves in their legs or spinal cord or to the muscles in their legs. Other conditions that make it more likely a child will develop cavus foot are poliomyelitis, cerebral palsy, and spinal cord tumor.

Cavus Foot at Seattle Children's

Cavus foot is one of the conditions treated by the experts in our Foot and Ankle Deformities Program.

Dr. Vincent S. Mosca, chief of foot and ankle medicine and surgery at Seattle Children's, is known internationally for his expertise in treating conditions affecting children's feet. Over the last two decades, he has conducted research that has led to landmark discoveries in understanding and managing cavus foot and other foot problems in children and teenagers.

Dr. Mosca's work has uncovered information on evaluating, classifying and treating cavus foot. The techniques for surgical reconstruction developed at Children's have become the standards used by orthopedic surgeons around the world.