What Is the Difference Between a Podiatrist and an Orthopedist?
Finesse Foot Care’s office is open and currently accepting new patients to meet all podiatric concerns. For more information, call us or book an appointment online. We serve patients from Lyndhurst OH, Chagrin Falls OH, Beachwood OH, Pepper Pike OH, Woodmere OH, Hunting Valley OH, Solon OH, Mayfield OH, Moreland Hills OH, Orange OH and surrounding areas.
Table of Contents:
Is it better to see a podiatrist or an orthopedist?
Do orthopedists treat feet?
When should you see a podiatrist or an orthopedist?
The primary difference between a podiatrist and an orthopedist is the specialization of their practice and experience. An orthopedist is a medical doctor specializing in the musculoskeletal system (the bones, joints, tendons, and muscles). Podiatrists are more specialized, focusing on the foot and ankle from the time they start medical school and residency. There is overlap in the core sciences and medical specialties explored in residency training, but orthopedists specialize in all the bones and joints in the body while podiatrists are hyper-focused on the foot and ankle from day one. By contrast, orthopedists’ study under the broader umbrella of all musculoskeletal issues for the vast majority of medical school and residency. As a result, orthopedists will have less practical experience treating foot conditions than podiatrists.
Podiatrists master the specialty through 4 years of medical school, followed by 3 years of residency. Some choose to gain further certifications in areas such as surgery of the foot and ankle with the American Board of Podiatric Medicine (ABPM), as Finesse Footcare’s Dr. Danielle Shaper did with a three-year surgical residency program at Steward St. Elizabeth Medical Center. As a result, podiatrists can treat a wide array of conditions affecting the foot or ankle including resetting bones, X-rays, lab tests, and performing surgeries. Podiatrists can assist a patient with preventative measures and general foot care.
Whether a podiatrist or an orthopedist is better suited to treat you will depend on the nature of your condition or the care required. If your condition falls under the specialty of a podiatrist (concerning the lower leg or foot) then they will be best suited to meet your needs due to their highly specific skill set. A general orthopedist is likely to be better equipped to manage knees, shoulders, and hips as opposed to the foot and ankle region of their more uniquely qualified podiatrist counterparts.
Orthopedists do treat feet; however, they lack the years of specialized training and experience found in podiatrists. Orthopedics is devoted to diagnosing, treating, rehabilitating, and preventing injuries and diseases in your musculoskeletal system. If you have an injury or condition affecting your foot or ankle it is best to see a podiatrist.
Foot and ankle orthopedic surgeons complete a year of training for foot and ankle reconstruction, but this still falls short of the years of specialized experience required for practicing podiatrists. General orthopedic doctors do not necessarily have specialized foot training. So, while orthopedists do treat feet it is best to trust your health in the hands of podiatrists for feet and ankle-related issues as they are by far the most experienced.
If you’re experiencing issues involving your lower leg or feet, it is recommended you consult with a podiatrist for diagnosis and treatment.
Podiatrists treat a wide array of conditions including heel pain, bunions, fungal toenails, digital disorders, arthritic disorders, plantar warts, Morton’s neuroma, nail disorders, ankle sprains, and toenail fungus, to name a few.
Podiatrists can assist with any form of foot care from serious conditions right down to day-to-day preventative measures like advising stretches, exercises, or picking the correct shoe size.
Orthopedists should be consulted for issues with bones, joints, tendons, and muscles, in all other parts of the body. Finesse Foot Care’s office is open and accepting new patients to meet all podiatric concerns. Finesse Foot Care’s podiatric physician and foot surgeon, Dr. Danielle L. Shaper, DPM, brings 10 years of practical experience to ensure expert foot care. She will work with each patient and develop a unique plan to address all his or her specific needs. We serve patients from Lyndhurst OH, Chagrin Falls OH, Beachwood OH, Pepper Pike OH, Woodmere OH, Hunting Valley OH, Solon OH, Mayfield OH, Moreland Hills OH, Orange OH and surrounding areas.