When you have a problem with your foot or ankle that requires medical attention, who do you see for treatment — an orthopedist or a podiatrist? Many people think a podiatrist is the same as an orthopedist, but there are several significant differences between the two.
What Is a Podiatrist?
A podiatrist is a doctor that specializes in foot and ankle conditions. They typically treat issues like:
- Heel spurs.
- Fallen arches.
- Plantar fasciitis.
- Sprained ankles.
Podiatrists use surgical and nonsurgical procedures to treat foot and ankle problems. Podiatric surgeons perform procedures like reconstructive surgery, tendon repair and arthroscopic surgery.
What Is an Orthopedist?
An orthopedist — also known as an orthopedic doctor or orthopedic surgeon — treats the entire musculoskeletal system. If you have a condition affecting your bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments and other connective tissue, an orthopedist can treat you.
Orthopedic patients often have injuries like:
- Sprains and strains.
- Ligament tears.
- Sports injuries.
- Arthritic joint damage.
Orthopedic doctors may specialize in subfields such as foot and ankle care. Like podiatrists, they use surgical and nonsurgical forms of treatment. They can perform all types of foot and ankle surgeries, including ankle replacement, Achilles tendon repair and reconstructive surgery.
Sometimes, foot and ankle problems stem from issues with the knees, hips or lower back. Foot and ankle orthopedic specialists may review other orthopedic issues to understand and treat your condition effectively.
Do I Need a Podiatrist or an Orthopedist?
Both podiatrists and orthopedists can treat foot and ankle problems. You can see either type of doctor for surgical and nonsurgical solutions. If you want to see an orthopedist, it's a good idea to choose a doctor that specializes in foot and ankle pain.
Generally speaking, it's best to choose an experienced doctor with whom you feel comfortable. If you have a complex problem, a foot and ankle orthopedist can address any other musculoskeletal issues that may be contributing to your pain.
Our award-winning foot and ankle specialists, Dr. Brian Thomson and Dr. Jeffrey Willers, have years of experience in treating ankle pain, foot arthritis, ankle replacement, fractures, heel pain, tendon disorders, avascular necrosis, neuromas, hammertoes, bunions, and claw toes.
Schedule an Appointment With a Foot and Ankle Orthopedic Specialist
Persistent foot and ankle pain can make it difficult or even impossible to engage in physical activities you enjoy. If you've tried at-home treatments and your pain continues, contact the specialists at Elite Sports Medicine and Orthopedics. We can examine your feet and ankles, provide an accurate diagnosis and develop an effective treatment plan.
Get in touch with us today to learn more about our services or schedule an appointment.