Is It Better To See A Podiatrist Or An Orthopedist?
The feet and ankles are complex parts of the body which can be exposed to a variety of problems as a result of heavy usage. In seeking a healthcare expert for your problem areas, you may be unsure who to call. Industry jargon and complex qualifications can feel overwhelming when researching the best treatment available. Depending on your problem areas, various healthcare providers will cater to separate issues – so it’s important to know the difference.
What Does a Podiatrist Do?
Most people opt to see a podiatrist for their initial care when struggling from a foot or ankle issue. This is because they can treat all kinds of orthopedic injuries and conditions involving these areas. They may also employ surgical methods where necessary, and support you to treat other health issues such as diabetes, as long as they’re related to your foot or ankle condition.
Podiatrists spend their entire surgical residency training on the foot and ankle, meaning they have more years of study specifically on the feet. However, they’ll more often than not utilise a non-invasive approach where possible, before recommending surgery. They receive medical training as well as focussed training on the feet, ankles and lower legs before receiving their qualifications. They’re also heavily trained in biomechanics and foot balance which makes them proficient in fitting orthotics, custom shoes and braces.
What is an Othopedist?
An orthopedist, also known as an orthopedic surgeon, is essentially a medical doctor who deals with similar issues of the foot and ankle, with additional authority to treat the entire musculoskeletal system. This is beneficial in cases where the foot and ankle problems are originating from another area of the body such as the hip.
Othopedists may also look into more extreme issues regarding underlying bones, ligaments, muscles and tendons. Whilst some may practice general orthopedics, others may specialise in areas like the feet, hands, shoulder, spine or knees. Essentially, orthopedists have a wider medical background but less time focussed in learning about the feet and ankle ailments. As a surgeon, their approach to footcare will normally be surgically based rather than conservative.
Should I See a Podiatrist or an Orthopedist?
Both podiatrists and orthopedists are qualified health practitioner, who’ve been through intensive studies before beginning their medical training. There is some overlap in their training and expertise, but this shouldn’t be a deterrent for one or the other. The sphere of treatment they provide is the key difference and should be a deciding factor when seeking a healthcare professional for your needs.
Establishing your symptoms and circumstances is the first point of call in finding the root cause of your issue. Generally, if you have an injury, condition or other symptoms impacting your foot and ankle health, it’s best to see a podiatrist. If any of this also affecting another part of your musculoskeletal system, you should consider seeing an orthopedist. A podiatrist can help identify your key pain origins and treatment options, and will refer you to an orthopedist if they believe the problem is originating from another area.
Book a Professional Consultation
Now that we’ve distinguished the difference between a podiatrist and an orthopedist, you can make an informed decision that’s best for your circumstances. Booking a consultation with a professional will ensure you get the right support you need for your foot and ankle conditions.
Reach out to us at Muscle Joint Bone to discuss if podiatry is the right option for you. Our dedicated team of experts can provide a variety of treatments to support and minimise the effects of ankle and foot conditions.