Podiatrist vs. Orthopedist: What’s the Difference?

What is the difference between a podiatrist and an orthopedist that specializes in the foot and ankle? It’s an age-old question . . . Okay, maybe not an age-old, but it’s certainly one that we get asked a lot. When experiencing foot and/or ankle pain or problems, it’s important to know the difference between an orthopedic surgeon that specializes in the foot and ankle versus a podiatrist. Below we cover some of the key differences.

Orthopedist vs. Podiatrist: Who to see when you're having foot problems.
Treating your feet: Orthopedist or Podiatrist?
  • Training – An orthopedic surgeon with a specialty focus must complete medical school, an internship, residency, and fellowship training. A fellowship is the additional year of training a medical doctor undergoes to specialize in a particular field, such as the foot and ankle. Podiatrists attend podiatry school followed by a, typically, shorter fellowship-training program.
  • Board Certification – Orthopedic surgeons are board-certified by one of the subspecialties under the American Board of Medical Specialties. Dr. Grebing, for instance, was certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery.

    Podiatrists can be certified by the American Board of Podiatric Medicine and the American Board of Podiatric Surgery. They are eligible for certification after additional training.

  • Assessment – Simply put, orthopedic surgeons are medical doctors; podiatrists are not. An orthopedist will take the entire body into consideration when assessing and diagnosing a problem. They will review the complete musculoskeletal system, including the bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, cartilage and connective tissue to rule out any other underlying circumstances that could be affecting the foot and ankle.
  • Treatment – Podiatrists typically treat more common foot and ankle problems, such as ingrown toenails, calluses, fallen arches, and heel spurs. Orthopedists can also treat these foot and ankle issues. However, they are also trained to treat more complex problems, as well, that involve the musculoskeletal system, and perform more complicated surgeries.

If you’re experiencing foot or ankle pain—don’t drag your feet to schedule an appointment! We’d be happy to assist and answer any questions you might have. Please call us at 618-288-9460. You can also visit www.c4ao.com for more information.