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5 Things You Need to Know About Pes Cavus (Claw Foot)

5 Things You Need to Know About Pes Cavus (Claw Foot) 5 Things You Need to Know About Pes Cavus (Claw Foot)

1. Discomfort From the Ground Up

Pes cavus or claw foot, as it's colloquially called, is the relatively simple and common condition of high arches in the feet that has an unfortunate and, some might say, frightening name. Mild cases result in some discomfort in the form of blistering while more severe cases cause an actual clawing of the toes and fore-foot and prevent normal daily motion. Either way, a consult with a podiatrist is a good first step to keep the claw foot from becoming worse or leading to something else.

2. Claw Marks

The first and most obvious indicator of claw foot is an unusually high arch. Since it's difficult to compare an unusual foot arch to a "normal" arch, looking for calluses and corns at the stem of the first and fifth toes is a good way to find signs of the condition. Repeated trouble finding comfortable shoes is another reliable sign that you might have pes cavus. More severe symptoms include a claw like appearance with the toes curled forward when you lift the foot off the ground.

3. Feet Are Windows to the Brain

Moderate or severe cases of pes cavus can indicate more severe neurological or neuromuscular conditions such as cerebral palsy and certain forms of muscular dystrophy. For this reason, a physician should look at persistent cases of claw foot that cause more than mild discomfort.

4. Case of the Runner's Claw Foot

Runners who find they have unusual difficulty running long distance (after considerable training, that is) or have too much pronation (inward role of the foot on each step) might have some form of claw foot. If you are diagnosed with pes cavus, running shoes that have motion control, or a stiff section at the inside of the shoe, can help prevent the type of pronation you experience. Wrongly fitted running shoes, however, will exacerbate the problem.

5. A Helping Hand for Your Foot

There are many things you can do to improve, or at least mitigate, the effects of claw foot. The first and most simple is daily stretching, with a focus on the hamstrings, quadriceps and muscles of the feet. Rolling your feet over a tennis ball a few minutes a day will help relax the muscles causing the claw effect. Orthotics, or custom fitted insoles for your shoes, are another good option. In the worst (non-neurological) cases, surgery may be a last resort.

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