There’s more than one way to treat the feet, and several professions are devoted to their care. One question which often arises when discussing various foot problems is, should you make an appointment with a podiatrist or book in with an orthopedic surgeon?

Podiatrist Versus Orthopedic Surgeon

There is some overlap in the treatments provided by podiatrists and orthopedic surgeons, but the training each professional undergoes is different.

Even though the training varies between the two professions, most people will choose a podiatrist over an orthopedic surgeon, but both could be qualified to treat the condition.

What is an Orthopedic Surgeon?

Orthopedic surgeons are medical doctors who are qualified to treat conditions that affect any part of the musculoskeletal system, not just the feet and lower extremities.

Orthopedic surgeons specialize in diagnosing, preventing, and treating injuries and diseases in the musculoskeletal system. There are general orthopedics who treat the entire system, while others will specialize in hand, shoulder, spine, hips, or knees. Other orthopedic professionals may focus on sports medicine and pediatrics.

When foot and ankle problems originate in the knee, hip, or lower back, a foot and ankle orthopedic surgeon may be the right choice. They can work on the lower extremity and are also able to provide treatment for the rest of your body.

What is a Podiatrist?

Podiatrists receive specialized training in treating conditions of the foot and ankle. They receive medical training, plus specialized training on the foot, ankle, and lower leg.

A podiatrist is an expert in the biomechanics and proper balance of the foot. As such, they are eminently qualified to fit custom shoes, orthotics, and braces.

Podiatrists are qualified only to treat foot and ankle conditions (there are exceptions in remote areas). Also, podiatrists generally try to treat foot problems without resorting to surgery.

Of course, if treatment is unsuccessful, then a podiatrist will recommend a surgical technique. Please note, not all podiatrists are trained in the latest surgical procedures.

A podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon are both excellent choices when dealing with matters of the foot, but it’s always best to check your podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon’s level of qualifications.

This content has been written and reviewed by Dr. Brant L. McCartan, DPM

LinkedIn Profile Link: