If podiatrists treat and perform surgeries on the feet and ankles, and orthopedic doctors can treat and perform surgeries on the feet and ankles, what on earth is the difference between the two? Navigating the ins and outs of what different doctors do can be a little challenging, so we are here to help!
While there are many similarities between the conditions podiatrists and orthopedic surgeons address and treat, there also are many differences. According to Mayo Clinic’s website, orthopedic surgeons specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of the musculoskeletal system, including disorders of the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves.
While specialties within the orthopedic field may include feet and ankles, orthopedic surgeons treat and perform surgery on the rest of the body, too. These surgeons work on everything from knees and hips to hands and necks.
Podiatrists, on the other hand, are physicians and surgeons who specialize in and treat feet, ankles, and related structures of the leg, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). Podiatrists are uniquely qualified to treat these areas based on their education, training, experience, and personal choice within their practice, according to the association.
Podiatrists commonly are doctors of podiatric medicine, whose training and specializations cover all things foot and ankle. They receive medical education and training comparable to medical doctors or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. Their training includes four years of undergraduate education, four years of graduate education at one of nine podiatric medical colleges, as well as two to three years of hospital-based, postgraduate residency training, according to the APMA.
Because Orthopedic Surgeons work includes a larger portion of the musculoskeletal system, their training includes four years of undergraduate education, four years of medical school, four to five years of orthopedic surgery residency, plus a one to two-year fellowship, according to Study.com.
When it comes to the feet and ankles, if you require a major procedure, such as a joint replacement, joint reconstruction, nerve or muscle repair, orthopedic surgeons typically would be the doctors to treat you.
Podiatrists, on the other foot, can treat and help you manage a long list of common maladies. Dr. Smith, for instance, is an experienced doctor of podiatric medicine, who diagnoses and helps solve problems affecting all parts of the foot, including:
- Hammer toes
- Ingrown toenails and toenail fungus
- Diabetic foot care, including diabetic therapeutic shoes
- Flat feet
- Arch supports
- Custom orthotics and other foot care products
- Heel and arch pain
- Wart therapies
- In-office X-rays, and more
While surgery is safe and effective, with Dr. Smith, it is always the last option. His numerous non-surgical treatments which include custom, ready-made orthotic shoes, splints, and shoe inserts can increase your comfort and control the movement of your feet without surgery. If surgery is required, though, your feet are in expert, caring hands.
Foot pain is never normal. If you have questions about foot pain or would like more information about what podiatric care could do for you, give us a call at 309-762-7919.