Claw Foot (Pes Cavus)

Claw Foot

Brief Outline of Claw Foot

Pes cavus (claw foot) is a genetic condition that causes a high arch, giving the foot a claw-like appearance. This often leads to tight calf muscles and pain in the forefoot. People with claw foot have difficulty finding shoes that fit properly, which can lead to other foot conditions. This condition is the opposite of flat feet but is much less common.

Claw Foot

Anatomy and physiology

Pes cavus is a condition in which there is exaggerated height of theĀ longitudinal arch, which means that the foot is fairly inflexible due to tight calf muscles. This foot positioning puts additional stress on theĀ metatarsal heads. The calf tendon is stretched over the heel and into the arch and the raised arch puts additional stress on the calf muscles. Those people with this genetic disorder must work to correct it or work around it in their activities.

Cause of Claw Foot

Genetic condition. Possibly secondary to contractures or disturbed balance of the muscles.

Signs and symptoms

Pain in the foot, especially when walking or running. Toes may be bent.

Complications if left unattended

If left unattended, pes cavus can lead to chronic pain and possible injury to other structures in the foot. Foot instability is common, and could lead to strains and sprains.


  • Stretch the calf muscles and the foot.
  • Seek medical help if painful and unable to walk properly

Rehabilitaiton and treatment

Stretching the calf muscles and the foot is the fist and most important step in rehabilitation. Finding proper fitting shoes will be important as well, which will help support the arch but also prevent injury due to the instability of the foot. Strengthening the muscles of the lower leg will also support the foot. If surgery is required, it will be important to increase strength and flexibility in the muscles that are immobilised.

Long-term prognosis

When treated properly, claw foot can be corrected and the symptoms relieved. Surgery may be an option, especially when pain is severe and other treatments do not help.

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