12 September, 2011
High arches can cause pain and make walking difficult for your child. The condition, known as cavus foot, rarely is present at birth and usually develops over the first 10 years of a child’s life, reports the Seattle Children’s Hospital. Treatment for cavus foot depends on the cause of the condition.
If your child has cavus foot, you will notice that her arch, the curved area on the underside of her foot, is higher than normal. Because walking is harder with a high arch, your child might also experience some related symptoms, such as bent or clawed toes or calluses on the feet. The high position of the arch puts too much pressure on the foot, which can cause pain when your child walks or stands. The high arch also makes the foot unstable. Frequent ankle sprains might occur due to this instability. Finding comfortable shoes can be a challenge. Wearing uncomfortable shoes can contribute to the formation of calluses and blisters if the foot rubs against the shoes. Cavus foot may be limited to one foot or affect both feet.
The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons reports that cavus foot often is caused by a neurologic disorder or medical condition, such as spina bifida, nerve injuries, muscular dystrophy, polio, stroke, cerebral palsy or Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. In some cases, cavus foot results if your child inherits a genetic tendency to develop a high arch. Nerve or muscle diseases can affect muscle strength, resulting in unbalanced muscles that don’t work efficiently. If unbalanced muscles are a problem, your child may experience foot drop, a condition in which the affected foot drags when your child walks.
Treating underlying diseases may help improve the problem in some cases. If the disease cannot be treated or the condition is not caused by a disease, your doctor may recommend other options, such as braces or placing orthotic devices in the shoes to stabilize the foot. Your child also might benefit from wearing special shoes that provide ankle support. Wider heels on the shoes help stabilize the foot and prevent it from turning inward. If nonsurgical treatment isn’t helpful or the condition worsens, your doctor may recommend surgery.
Surgery to correct cavus foot is done in two parts. Your child’s surgeon carefully cuts and frees tight arch tissue during the first surgery. When the tightest tissue is released, other tissue in the arch loosens. The second operation, performed approximately two weeks later, involves reshaping bone and repositioning tendons. After the second surgery, your child might experience more stability and fewer problems maintaining her balance.
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