Foot pain and other issues are common complaints, especially as people age. Proper treatment is necessary for patients to not only find pain relief, but treat the underlying issues causing the discomfort.
Two types of doctors treat issues with the feet. Podiatrists and orthopedic foot doctors both offer treatment and management of the feet and ankles, but when should you choose one over the other?
Your choice of care depends on what condition and treatments you need. You can start by seeing your family doctor and get a referral, or you can decide after learning more about the difference between a podiatrist and an orthopedic foot doctor.
Understanding Podiatrists Treatments
Both podiatrists and orthopedic foot doctors diagnose and treat parts of the feet and ankles. The areas include bones, joints and soft tissues. However, a podiatrist also manages dermatology and biomechanics of the feet and ankles. This means a podiatrist treats feet skin issues and movement issues affecting the bones, tendons and muscles.
When Should You See A Podiatrist?
A podiatrist is the best choice if you have issues with the skin on the feet or with sensations. Some common issues a podiatrist is best to treat include the following:
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Athlete's foot
- Ingrown toenails
- Heel spurs
While a podiatrist is the best choice for most foot issues involving skin and movement issues, both a podiatrist or an orthopedic foot doctor can treat common foot issues, like plantar fasciitis.
Understanding Orthopedic Foot Doctor Treatments
Orthopedic foot doctors do treat some of the same issues as podiatrists treat. However, they focus more on the bones, joints, and soft tissues injuries and disorders.
Orthopedic doctors specialize in the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of disease and/or injuries of the musculoskeletal system. These doctors also work to prevent injuries.
Sometimes foot issues originate from other parts of the body, like the lower back, hip, or knee. An orthopedic doctor helps with these issues while a podiatrist doesn't treat foot issues originating from other areas of the body.
When Should You See An Orthopedic Foot Doctor?
Consult an orthopedic foot doctor if you've had a recent injury that is causing foot pain, or if you suspect the following issues with your foot.
- Broken bones, fractures or sprains
- Pain in the ball of the foot
- Ligament tears
- Achilles tendinitis
The orthopedic doctor can treat and recommend physical therapy if needed.
If you're unsure which type of foot doctor you should see, go to either one at first. If the professional you choose is unable to treat you, they can refer you to a doctor to help. Contact a local foot doctor near you to learn more.