Podiatry and Orthopedics are similar in that providers can specialize in the same general area of the body and both Podiatrists and Orthopedists are medical professionals that have obtained similar credentials in the medical field. In fact, Podiatrists and Orthopedists often work side-by-side in their professions. There are, however, some major differences. Let’s take a closer look:
What is a Podiatrist?
Podiatrists are doctors and surgeons that focus on the foot and ankle. A Podiatrist will have been to school to study the foot and ankle specifically. Considering this, they are differentiated physicians. This means that they went into their studies with the foot and ankle specifically in mind.
The formal education required to become a Podiatrist includes four years of undergraduate school, four years at an accredited podiatric medical school, and three or four years of surgical residency training focusing only on the foot and ankle. Podiatrists study medicine as it relates to the foot and ankle during their entire course of study. Often, Podiatrists may further sub-specialize within a specific niche of Podiatry by completing an additional year of fellowship training.
Unique to Podiatry is extensive training in the biomechanics of the feet, and how it affects the whole body. This allows for the Podiatrist to be well versed in foot balance and gait abnormalities, and to be equipped with a wide array of conservative care measures, such as orthotics and braces, that can help patients feel better without a trip to the operating room. With that being said, there is no difference between the surgical repertoire between the Podiatrist and the Orthopedist, and the latest advances in surgical treatment are employed by both specialities evenly.
Podiatrists work alongside Orthopedists, and have additional experience with all things ‘foot and ankle’.
What is an Orthopedist?
An Orthopedist is a surgeon who treats the entire musculoskeletal system. Although Orthopedists can focus or specialize in various parts of the body, they are trained to operate on the entire musculoskeletal system.
The formal education required to become an Orthopedist includes four years of undergraduate school, four years at an accredited medical school, followed by five years of residency training focusing on generalized orthopedic surgery of the entire body. Within these five years, an average of 2-3 months is typically spent on training specific to the foot and ankle. Thereafter, orthopedists opting to pursue a specialty in foot and ankle complete an additional fellowship that lasts one year and focuses on the treatment of disorders of the foot and ankle.
Which should you see for your foot or ankle problem?
This is a common question, and the answer is simple. You should see the physician that you are most comfortable with. Both Foot and Ankle Orthopedists and Podiatrists are trained to employ the same evidence-based treatment principles, surgical techniques, and care management. As a patient, you will need to have trust in your doctor. In this instance, it will not be based on the letters behind their name, but on their approach to your care and connection they establish with you as a patient.
If you are experiencing foot and ankle problems, it is best that you address them as quickly as possible to prevent any long-term damage. A search for “Orthopedist near me” or “Podiatrist near me” will start you in the right direction.
Foot and Ankle Problems: When Should You be Concerned?
If you are experiencing foot and ankle pain, it is likely a good idea that you get it checked out by a professional like a Podiatrist or an Orthopedist. You should especially seek medical attention if you do not have proper mobility of the affected area or if your pain and discomfort increase over time.
There are certain injuries or issues that can cause further damage if left unattended. There are also serious issues that may not cause as much pain as you would expect. It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your feet and ankles.
Common Podiatry Questions
What is a Podiatrist?
A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the foot and ankle.
What does a Podiatrist treat?
A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in the medical and surgical care of the feet. They can treat conditions such as ingrown toenails, fungal toenails, bunions, hammertoes, and plantar fasciitis.
What’s the difference between a Podiatrist and Orthopedist?
A Podiatrist and Orthopedist are very similar to each other in many ways. They use most of the same tools and treat a lot of the same conditions. The main difference between the two is their medical training. Podiatrists are trained exclusively on the foot and ankle, whereas the Orthopedic is trained on the whole body with an additional year of training on the foot and ankle.