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Foot abnormalities like pes cavus don't have to get in the way of your child's life.

A condition that causes one or both feet to have very high arches, pes cavus (high-arched foot) can make walking, running or enjoying everyday activities feel uncomfortable. With this foot condition, the high arch of the foot doesn't flatten with weight bearing.

Some children with very high arches put extra pressure on both the ball and heel of their feet – leading to pain and frequent ankle sprains. For others, pes cavus causes severe foot deformities – leading them to walk on the outside of their feet.

Pes cavus looks different for every child, but our orthopedic specialists are always ready to create a treatment plan that works best for your family. We'll start by performing a careful physical exam – and taking X-rays if needed – to determine how severe your child's condition is. Sometimes, we'll take an MRI (a non-invasive imaging test) of the spine to find out whether or not your child has an underlying condition causing their foot deformity.

Specific treatments and services may vary by location. Please contact a specific location for more information.

Symptoms and Causes of Pes Cavus

High arches of the foot can range in severity. It can be located in the forefoot, midfoot, hindfoot or a combination of all three areas. Some children have extreme symptoms while others don't. Learn more about what your child might experience below:

  • Pain when walking or standing
  • Instability
  • Tight calf muscles
  • Walking on the outside of the foot
  • Frequent ankle sprains
  • Calluses on the balls, heels or sides of feet
  • Toe deformities, like hammertoes or claw toes
  • Weak foot and ankle muscles that cause your child to drag their foot when walking

Causes of Pes Cavus

Many pes cavus cases are caused by an underlying neurological disorder like Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, cerebral palsy or spina bifida – all of which Shriners Children's specialists treat. Sometimes, though, pes cavus is simply an inherited abnormality.

Learn About Pes Cavus Treatments

Once your child is diagnosed with pes cavus, a Shriners Children's physician will work with you to decide on the best path forward. Read about some of the options you might discuss below:

Physical Therapy

For some children with pes cavus, symptoms like tight calf muscles and weak lower leg and foot muscles make standing and walking difficult. Working with a team of physical therapists can help stretch and strengthen your child's muscles.

Bracing and Orthotics

If pes cavus causes your child to fall often or struggle to walk, special shoe inserts or braces can help stabilize the feet and ankles.


Sometimes, children with severe pes cavus need surgery to improve the position of the bones in the foot and fix the high arch causing painful symptoms. If your child's foot deformity is severe, you can trust that our orthopedic team will provide you with the best-possible options for surgery.

Innovative Treatments

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Shriners Children's multidisciplinary team includes orthotists who create braces to meet the individual need of each child – whether to treat a complex condition or common injury.

Orthopedic Surgery

With their expertise in treating children from toddlers to teens, the pediatric orthopedic surgeons at Shriners Children’s understand the challenges of planning ahead for growing bones and bodies.

Pediatric Rehabilitation

Shriners Children's specializes in supporting your child physically, developmentally and emotionally to reach his or her pediatric rehabilitation and therapy goals.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy at Shriners Children's helps children build confidence and strength, focusing on what is important to them and what they love to do in their daily lives.

Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services (POPS)

Shriners Children’s Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services (POPS) designs, fits and manufactures orthotics and prosthetics for children from infants to young adults.

Next Steps

Request an Appointment

Families and caregivers seeking treatment should start by contacting us for an appointment.

Log in to the Patient Portal

Parents and guardians of existing patients can email, request records, schedule appointments and more.

Refer a Patient

Physicians and healthcare providers can request appointments, start transfers or contact us with questions.