A lot of people don’t understand the similarities and differences between an orthopedic doctor and a podiatrist. While they both fit under the same medical subfield umbrella, there are some distinct differences between these two specialist physicians.
Let’s discuss what these differences are so that you know when you should see each one of these specialists.
Orthopedic doctors are specialists in the musculoskeletal system. They have expertise in diagnosing, treating, and preventing conditions and injuries that affect the bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and other connective tissue of the body. They employ a tremendous amount of nonsurgical treatments and surgical procedures to alleviate a vast variety of conditions and injuries that affect the musculoskeletal system.
Orthopedic doctors can be general orthopedic physicians or further specialize in different areas of orthopedics. This makes them specialists in specific areas of the body or for particular types of patients. By doing this, these orthopedic doctors are able to deliver highly specialized, focused, and expert care to patients. Examples of specializations include:
- Sports Medicine – Specialists treat patients who are athletes (professional and amateur), physically active individuals, and those who suffer from a condition or injury caused by playing a sport or exercising.
- Pediatrics – Specialists treat patients who are younger than 18.
- Spine and Brain – Specialists treat issues affecting the spine (from the neck to the lower back).
- Shoulder, Elbow, Wrist, and Hand – Specialists treat conditions and injuries affecting the upper extremity.
- Hip and Knee – Specialists treat conditions and injuries affecting the lower extremity.
- Foot and Ankle – Specialists (also known as podiatrists) treat conditions and injuries affecting the foot and ankle.
There is a significant overlap between some specializations. For example, if you suffer an injury to the shoulder while playing a sport, you can see a sports medicine doctor or an upper extremity doctor. Deciding which physician is right for you will require you to understand your needs, the type of injury you have, and many other factors.
Podiatrists are orthopedic physicians who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of conditions and injuries affecting the foot and ankle. Podiatrists see all types of patients suffering from a variety of conditions and injuries. Examples include:
- Sports injuries to the foot or ankle (sprained ankles, fractures, etc.)
- Arthritis of the foot or ankle (osteoarthritis, gout, etc.)
- Overuse injuries (plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, etc.)
- Diabetic foot issues
- Many other podiatric conditions and injuries (bunions, hammertoe, bone spurs, etc.)
Which One Do I Need to See?
Determining which type of orthopedic physician you need to see can be a little difficult if you don’t understand the roles of each of them. Clearly, there is some overlap between certain types of orthopedic physicians, so you may be able to see at least a couple of different kinds of orthopedic doctors to get treatment. As such, when it comes to the care of your foot and ankle, you could choose from a general orthopedic doctor or a podiatrist.
However, if you must choose between the two, you should go with a podiatrist. General orthopedic doctors can treat a plethora of conditions and injuries all over the body, including the foot and ankle. However, podiatrists are experts in that area of the body. As such, they will likely be able to give you much more accurate diagnoses and state-of-the-art treatments in the field of podiatry.
Foot and Ankle Care in Catonsville, Eldersburg, and Columbia, Maryland
The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics has experts in a variety of orthopedic specializations, including podiatry. If you have a foot or ankle condition or injury, come see our experts for quick and effective relief.
Call (410) 644-1880 or (855) 4MD-BONE to request an appointment. You can also request an appointment online.