The medical field is indeed vast and it’s often confusing for many to determine what kind of doctor they really need for a condition or health issue they have.
Quite often, doctors have multiple specializations; this works to their advantage because it means that they have a bigger pool of knowledge to draw from in order to accurately determine what ails their patients, but people can still be quite confused.
Among the common confusions people experience in terms of identifying what specific kind of doctor to turn to is distinguishing a podiatrist from an orthopedist. These two medical professionals share a lot of things in common, which is why many tend to think they are one and the same, but they are not.
If you are asking yourself, “Should I see a podiatrist or orthopedist?” and you simply don’t know the answer, here’s the simplest explanation:
A podiatrist is a doctor that focuses specifically on the foot and ankle. He treats the bones, soft tissues, joints, and even the skin issues of the foot and ankle. A podiatrist also manages the biomechanics of these two important body parts.
Meanwhile, an orthopedist can only manage aspects of the foot and ankle that pertain to the bones, soft tissues and the foot.
Another point to bring clarity to the podiatrist vs. orthopedist confusion is that the latter specializes in the medical and surgical management of the bone and joint system of the whole body; it can focus on other parts of the body such as the shoulders, or hips.
Overall, orthopedists cover a broader spectrum. On the other hand, podiatric medicine is really just zoned in on everything related to the foot and ankle — it’s a much more focused and narrowed-down specialization.
Therefore, if you have any kind of foot or ankle problem, it would be correct to say that you would get the most appropriate treatment from a podiatrist because their job is truly concentrated on those two body areas.
Many podiatrists can also perform foot and ankle surgery, you just want to make sure that they are Certified by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery.
Also, if your foot issue is not of the bone, soft tissues, or the joints — say, you have a bunion or skin irritation in these areas — the only thing a general orthopedist can really do is to refer you to a podiatrist who has the knowledge, experience and understanding beyond those.
However, if your foot pain is connected to other pains in your body or your foot injury causes discomfort in other areas, you definitely will be better off turning to a general orthopedist first.
If you need to see a podiatrist concerning any foot and/or ankle condition, give us a call today to schedule your appointment at 301-937-5666…or you can request your appointment online here.
Don’t wait until it gets worse…early detection is key for any type of foot or ankle condition.