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Interventions for the prevention and treatment of pes cavus.

BACKGROUND: People with pes cavus frequently suffer foot pain, which can lead to significant disability. Despite anecdotal reports, rigorous scientific investigation of this condition and how best to manage it is lacking.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of interventions for the prevention and treatment of pes cavus.

SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Neuromuscular Disease Group Trials Register (April 2007), MEDLINE (January 1966 to April 2007), EMBASE (January 1980 to April 2007), CINAHL (January 1982 to April 2007), AMED (January 1985 to April 2007), all EBM Reviews (January 1991 to April 2007), SPORTdiscuss (January 1830 to April 2007) and reference lists of articles. We also contacted known experts in the field to identify additional published or unpublished data.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We included all randomised and quasi-randomised controlled trials of interventions for the treatment of pes cavus. We also included trials aimed at preventing or correcting the cavus foot deformity.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two authors independently selected papers, assessed trial quality and extracted data.

MAIN RESULTS: Only one trial (custom-made foot orthoses) fully met the inclusion criteria. Two additional cross-over trials (off-the-shelf foot orthoses and footwear) were also included. Both studies assessed secondary biomechanical outcomes less than three-months after randomisation. Data used in the three studies could not be pooled due to heterogeneity of diagnostic groups and outcome measures. The one trial that fully met the inclusion criteria investigated the treatment of cavus foot pain in 154 adults over a three month period. The trial showed a significant reduction in the level of foot pain, measured using the validated 100-point Foot Health Status Questionnaire, with custom-made foot orthoses versus sham orthoses (WMD 10.90; 95% CI 3.21 to 18.59). Furthermore, a significant improvement in foot function measured with the same questionnaire was reported with custom-made foot orthoses (WMD 11.00; 95% CI 3.35 to 18.65). There was also an increase in physical functioning of the Medical Outcomes Short Form - 36 (WMD 9.50; 95% CI 4.07 to 14.93). There was no difference in reported adverse events following the allocation of custom-made (9%) or sham foot orthoses (15%) (RR 0.61; 95% CI 0.26 to 1.48).

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: In one randomised controlled trial, custom-made foot orthoses were significantly more beneficial than sham orthoses for treating chronic musculoskeletal foot pain associated with pes cavus in a variety of clinical populations. There is no evidence for any other type of intervention for the treatment or prevention of foot pain in people with a cavus foot type.

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