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Podiatrist vs Orthopedist: What Are the Different Types of Foot Doctors?
A foot doctor can help people with a variety of foot-related conditions. Many different types of doctors treat conditions of the feet. These include podiatrists and orthopedists. But many people are often not sure whether to see a podiatrist or orthopedist for foot-related conditions. It is important to understand the similarities and differences between the two. This will help you make an informed decision when you need advice and treatment.
A foot doctor
Orthopedists and podiatrists can diagnose and treat similar medical problems. However, they are not the same doctors. The differences are evident in their education and training and the degree of emphasis on the feet. Here are some of the similarities and differences between podiatrists and orthopedists.
A podiatrist is a doctor of podiatric medicine, a surgeon or physician who focuses on the treatment of the ankle, foot and related leg structures. Podiatrists treat many foot-related problems. Some common problems include neuromas, heel pain, arthritis, diabetes, fractures and sprains. These doctors can recommend various treatment options based on a patient’s condition. A podiatrist may suggest padding, orthotics, physical therapy and even surgery to treat problems.
Orthopedists focus on the whole musculoskeletal system. However, these doctors can decide to focus on foot and ankle treatment as well as surgery. Orthopedists can treat both chronic and acute musculoskeletal conditions. These include fractures, tendon and ligament injuries, back and neck pain, wrist and hand injuries and chronic muscle pain. Both fields focus on particular areas including sports medicine, surgery, pediatrics and geriatrics.
Education and training
Podiatrists earn the Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree after finishing graduate coursework. Podiatrists are expected to attend four years of undergraduate school. Podiatrists have to then complete four years of training in a podiatric medical school. After graduating, podiatrists have to work in a hospital for three years. This is referred to as a residency and podiatrists are expected to put what they have learned to use. Podiatrists also work closely with doctors in other fields.
After the residency, these doctors can receive advanced certifications in surgery on feet and ankles. Orthopedists also attend undergraduate school for four years and have to complete four years in medical school. But five years of generalized orthopedic surgical residency training is needed. This is usually with the possibility of another year in a particular area like the treatment of foot and ankle disorders.
Both orthopedists and podiatrists can take care of the feet. But a podiatrist focuses on the feet more compared to the average orthopedist. A podiatrist mainly focuses on disorders of the lower leg, foot and ankle. Podiatrists also treat a wider range of foot-related issues.
An orthopedist focuses on musculoskeletal disorders that affect the whole body. However, some of them usually end up focusing on foot and ankle treatment. There are several factors you should consider before deciding which kind of doctor to see. These include the areas a doctor focuses on and the level of training. Aside from these, it is also always advisable to choose a foot doctor whom you feel most comfortable with.
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