If you have an injury or problem with your foot, you may be trying to decide whether to see a podiatrist or an orthopedist. Perhaps your podiatrist recommended that you see an orthopedic surgeon for further treatment of your foot or ankle issues.
Let’s talk about the similarities and the differences between these two fields of medicine:
What a Podiatrist Specializes In
A podiatrist is a medical specialist who has education, training, and experience treating conditions, injuries, and disorders of the ankle and foot. Podiatrists treat foot and ankle issues through a variety of means, including orthotics, regenerative medicine, and physical and occupational therapy.
To become a podiatrist, the person must earn a four-year college degree, complete four years of podiatric school, and have several years of clinical training in foot and ankle medicine.
Because of their specialization, when an issue involves the foot or ankle and another body part, podiatrists often have to work with other medical professionals – including orthopedic surgeons. They may refer their patients to an orthopedist particularly if the issue requires extensive surgery.
What Is an Orthopedic Surgeon?
The field of orthopedics requires much more thorough training than podiatry. An orthopedic surgeon has specialized education that includes medical school as well as a full surgical residency.
An orthopedist must complete extensive training and have practice treating conditions, injuries, and disorders of the entire musculoskeletal system, not just the foot and surrounding structures. An orthopedic surgeon has specialized training in treating musculoskeletal issues through a variety of methods.
Orthopedic surgeons can also have specializations, which include:
- Shoulder, arm, and hand
- Ankle and foot
- Sports medicine
Why Would I Work with an Orthopedic Surgeon and Podiatrist?
While many foot and ankle problems are exclusive to the foot and ankle only, some of these issues actually originate from elsewhere in the body – or other parts of the body are also involved in the condition.
For example, some foot and ankle problems originate from the lower back, the hip, or the knee. Also, the problem may be due to a larger issue such as diabetes. In situations like these, the issue at hand is not exclusive to the foot and ankle, so a podiatrist may not be able to treat the issue entirely.
In cases like these, a podiatrist can work closely with an orthopedic surgeon to treat the patient’s overall condition. A successful working relationship between a podiatrist and orthopedic surgeon can mean your treatment will encompass the entire problem (rather than treating a part of the issue) and will include medical expertise of multiple professionals – which increases the likelihood of successful results.
Orthopedic Clinic in Maryland
If you would like to work with both an orthopedic surgeon and a podiatrist, the best option is to find a reputable and experienced orthopedic center that has a comprehensive team. This will ensure that your orthopedic surgeon and podiatrist will fully communicate with each other and with you, and the team can work together to treat your issues.
The Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland has a variety of specialists and surgeons in the orthopedic field. We have a wealth of knowledge and experience diagnosing and treating orthopedic issues, and we take a collaborative approach in ensuring each patient is treated in the best way possible.
Call us at (410) 644-1880 today to make an appointment, or complete our online appointment request form. We look forward to helping you get back on your feet!