Are you experiencing foot and ankle pain or sustained an injury recently? If so, you might be wondering what kind of doctor you should see to address your symptoms. You can see either a podiatrist or an orthopedist if you have a foot or ankle problem.
Either one can give you the corrective measures to address your condition but knowing more about their key differences might help you identify which one is the best fit. Read on to learn the distinction between a podiatrist and an orthopedist.
A podiatrist undergoes specialized training to treat disorders concerning the foot and ankle. Before they can get their license and start with their practice, a podiatrist’s training consists of the following:
- Four years of any pre-medicine courses
- Four years in a duly accredited podiatric medical school
- 3 to 4 years of residency training in foot and ankle surgery
After passing their state board examinations, they earn the title of Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM).
A podiatrist knows everything related to the ankle and foot. Their specialized training makes them more than capable at assessing the foot’s biomechanics, such as mechanical issues affecting balance. They can also prescribe orthotics, braces, and corrective footwear, if necessary.
As long as your pain is related to the foot or ankle, podiatrists will be able to provide you with care. They can advise you on a course of action for various foot conditions, including:
- Ingrown nails
- Heel spurs
- Flat feet
- Plantar fasciitis
- Diabetic foot
- And more
Podiatrists employ both surgical and non-surgical treatments to alleviate symptoms and treat underlying conditions and injuries.
Orthopedic surgeons, also known as orthopedists, are medical doctors specializing in conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system. They obtain the titles MD or DO, which stand for Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. Their comprehensive training consists of the following:
- Four years of any pre-medicine courses
- Four years in medical school
- Five years of residency in general orthopedic surgery
- Additional 1-year fellowship specifically treating the foot and ankle (optional)
Some orthopedists practice general orthopedics for the whole body, while others focus on specific areas, such as the:
- Foot and ankle
Orthopedists train to address a broad range of orthopedic concerns that occur all over the body. However, this doesn’t mean they cannot treat orthopedic problems in the foot — they are equally capable, and their training is not limited to foot and ankle problems.
Which to Choose
Both podiatrists and orthopedic surgeons can diagnose and treat foot and ankle conditions and injuries. Both employ conservative, minimally invasive, and surgical treatments. Choosing the type of physician more suitable for you may depend on your preference.
For instance, if you have a variety of orthopedic problems, such as arthritis in the knee or hip, a herniated disc, or a rotator cuff condition, you may choose to get foot and ankle care from an orthopedic doctor who can treat all these conditions.
Alternatively, if you want an expert physician who is dedicated to mastering the diagnosis and treatment of foot and ankle conditions and injuries, you may choose to see a podiatrist. Both choices are great, so don’t worry about making the wrong selection for your care.
Podiatrist in St. Peters, MO
You can consult both podiatrists and orthopedists for foot and ankle problems. The main difference between the two is the scope of their training. Podiatrists are trained specifically for foot and ankle conditions, while orthopedists can treat the whole musculoskeletal system, including the foot and ankle.
We specialize in podiatric care here at Advanced Bone & Joint, including foot surgery. If you’re feeling any pain in your lower extremities or would like to undergo a check-up, consulting with our podiatrist can help diagnose and treat your foot and ankle aches quickly and effectively.
Call us at (636) 229-4222 or fill out our secure online form to schedule an appointment with us today. Advanced Bone & Joint also has locations in O’Fallon and Wentzville, MO. We look forward to providing you with the care you need to live your life!