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Foot Injuries: Do I Need to See a Podiatrist or Orthopedist?

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Foot Injuries: Do I Need to See a Podiatrist or Orthopedist?

When you suffer from foot and ankle injuries or disorders, choosing between a podiatrist or orthopedist is important in finding the right care. After all, both are known for providing specialized foot and ankle treatment, so which is the best choice for your condition?

What Are the Differences Between Podiatrists and Orthopedists?

The main difference between podiatrists and orthopedists is that each treats different body systems. Most conditions treated by podiatrists are strictly localized to the foot and/or ankle. That means podiatrists focus on the foot and ankle, treating the musculoskeletal system (bones, muscles, ligaments, joints) along with conditions affecting the skin, blood vessels, and nerves. An Orthopedist, in contrast, treats mainly the musculoskeletal system but can do so throughout the whole body. Yes, that means there is some overlap between what each specialist can do.

How an Orthopedist Helps

An Orthopedic surgeon is a medical doctor with extensive education, including four years of medical school, five years of orthopedic surgical residency, and one year fellowship training dedicated to the treatment of foot and ankle disorders. Orthopedists are physicians with the expertise to address foot and ankle problems that can also originate from other parts of the body including bones, joints, and soft tissues. For example, it’s possible your foot pain stems from the back or hip, rather than being localized to the lower extremity. An orthopedist can help treat patients with fractures, osteoarthritis, deformity, and many other conditions that could affect both the lower extremity and another body area.

How a Podiatrist Helps

A podiatrist is a doctor of podiatric medicine and has specialized training to treat disorders of the foot and ankle. Education is also extensive and includes four years at a podiatric medical school and three to four years of surgical residency. Podiatrists treat conditions either through conservative or surgical methods, including ankle sprains, fractures, tendonitis, ingrown toenails, calluses, bunions, and plantar fasciitis. They are also trained to fit orthotics, custom shoes, and various foot/leg braces.

Contact Fox Valley Orthopedics’s Foot & Ankle Specialists

Regardless of whether you choose a podiatrist or orthopedist, there are always differences of opinion in the medical field. Both podiatrists and orthopedists are medical experts, and either can be an excellent choice. If you are still confused, you can ask your primary care provider which would be the better choice for your condition.

At Fox Valley Orthopedics, our trained orthopedic surgeons and podiatrists are skilled at treating foot and ankle conditions through various treatment modalities, not all of which include surgery. We recognize how you want to get back on your feet as soon as possible and know how debilitating foot pain can be when you’re reminded of the pain with every step you take.

If you are experiencing foot or ankle pain, contact us at Fox Valley Orthopedics at (630) 584-1400 to book an appointment with our friendly staff.