The Advantages of Seeing an Orthopedics Foot & Ankle Orthopedic Surgeon Over a Podiatrist
While both podiatrists and foot & ankle surgeons are specialists in treating foot and ankle conditions, there are some advantages to being treated by a certified, fellowship trained orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon:
- Years of Training: A podiatrist completes 4 years of podiatry school and then 2-3 years of residency training, which is a total of 6-7 of training. A foot & ankle orthopedic surgeon must complete 4 years of medical school, then 5-6 years of orthopedic residency training, and 1 year of specialized training in foot and ankle conditions, which is a total of more than 10 years of training.
- Conditions Treated: A podiatrist generally treats conditions isolated to the foot and ankle such as ingrown toenails, calluses, heel spurs, flat feet, and diabetic foot and foot problems related to systemic illness. A foot and ankle orthopedic surgeon is trained to handle minor as well as complex injuries or deformities of the foot and ankle that might impact the other joints including the knee, hip, and spine. They also have a better understanding of how an injury in another part of the skeleton can affect the foot and ankle.
What is Podiatry?
Podiatry is a branch of medicine that deals with the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of foot and ankle problems.
Our feet and ankles must last a lifetime and regular care of them ensure they are up to the task. Injuries or ailments to the feet or ankles can severely affect mobility and make performing day-to-day activities an uncomfortable or even excruciating experience. With expert medical attention and care, most of the problems can be lessened or prevented.
Podiatry can be utilized to treat and correct various feet, ankle and lower leg issues. Its range of treatments includes minor ailments such as ingrown toenails to chronic conditions like bunions or foot pain.
Types of Podiatry
Podiatry has several subspecialties. They include:
- Dermatological podiatry (foot and ankle skin disorders)
- Podiatric diabetology (diabetes foot care)
- Neuropodiatry (nerve disorders)
- Gerontological podiatry (foot and ankle problems of aged)
- Pediatric podiatry (foot and ankle problems of children)
- Podiatric orthopaedics or rheumatology (foot arthritis)
- Forensic podiatry (the study of foot or shoeprints for crime scene investigations)
- Podiatric sports medicine
Who is Specialized in Podiatry?
Podiatrists, also called 'foot doctor' or 'doctor of podiatric medicine', are experts in podiatry. They diagnose and treat a variety of medical conditions related to the foot, ankle and lower leg. Most podiatrists maintain general practices, either alone or with other doctors and allied health professionals and treat people of all ages. They are trained in both the surgical and non-surgical treatment of foot and ankle problems.
Scope of Podiatry
Podiatry deals with a wide range of foot and ankle conditions. They include but are not limited to:
- Arthritis (mainly osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis)
- Diabetic foot disorders (foot infections, ulcers, slow wound healing, etc.)
- Foot deformities (flat foot, high arched foot, bunions, hammertoes, etc.)
- Foot and ankle injuries such as sprains, strains and fracture
- Foot ligament or muscle pain
- Amputations and foot prosthetics
- Heel and arch pain (heel spurs, Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis)
- Broken heel, ankle, or broken toe
- Morton's neuroma (benign growth of nerve tissue that causes foot pain)
- Skin and nail conditions (ingrown nails, nail infections, corns, calluses, etc.)
- Sports injuries (dislocation, stress fracture, ankle sprain, tendon rupture, etc.)
When Should You Visit a Podiatrist?
You need to visit a podiatrist when you typically have:
- Severe pain or swelling in the foot or ankle that does not improve after several weeks.
- Signs of infection such as redness, warmth and tenderness in the affected area.
- An open wound and inability to walk or put weight on your foot.
- Diabetes and a wound that is not healing or swollen or warm to the touch.
- Burning pain, numbness or tingling of your foot.