Though they’re distinctly different practices, there are some similarities between orthopedics and podiatry. Both podiatrists and orthopedists attend medical school and are board-certified. The specific difference between a podiatrist and an orthopedic physician are the structures they treat. Podiatrists have a specialization in podiatry, the study, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of foot and ankle conditions, injuries, and diseases. Orthopedic physicians do the same for other parts of the musculoskeletal system. They can have specializations in a variety of subfields, such as the spine, upper extremities (shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand), or low extremities (hip, knee, and ankle). An orthopedic physician can specialize in surgery and perform a variety of surgical procedures, while a podiatrist can perform surgery on the foot and ankle.
When to See a Podiatrist
If your health issue is specifically related to your foot or ankle, it is perfectly appropriate, even advisable, to see a podiatrist. This expert will assess your condition, diagnose you, and devise a treatment plan. Podiatrists are also trained to address issues that are created by health conditions that are otherwise not specifically related to the foot and ankle. For instance, patients who are diabetic must take particularly good care of their feet. Diabetics are more prone to problems related to their feet, such as nerve damage. A podiatrist can also treat conditions like arthritis, which can impact various parts of the body, including the feet. Podiatrists also create preventive plans that can ultimately save you from a multitude of foot or ankle related problems in the future.
Many times, issues with your body can stem from your feet. For example, if you have poor balance or knee, hip, back, or neck pain, it could very much be the result of a foot issue. Your feet take on the weight of your body and help you stay balanced. Your feet also influence how you carry your weight and which parts of your body take on more pressure when you stand and walk than others. If you have a foot or ankle issue, you could be feeling symptoms all over your body. This is why orthopedic physicians refer patients to podiatrists all the time.
Podiatrists have a more in-depth knowledge of the foot and ankle than orthopedic doctors. As such, they have access to the latest in treatments and are able to accurately diagnose your condition a lot quicker than other medical professionals. Additionally, podiatrists can also perform surgery, if necessary. So, you won’t need to switch doctors if the need for surgery arises.
Finally, a podiatrist can help you maintain good foot health. Regular monitoring of changes in your feet are imperative, and it is essential that a professional regularly performs examinations on your feet. A podiatrist will check your feet for neuropathy, signs of wounds or injuries, and ask you about any symptoms you may be experiencing. Based on these factors, you may or may not need treatment.
Podiatric Care in South Texas
If you are in need of a skilled podiatrist, contact the experts at The Podiatry Group of South Texas today. Our board-certified podiatrists will get you an accurate diagnosis for your condition or injury and recommend effective treatments right away.