Should You See a Podiatrist Or an Orthopedic Surgeon?

The differences between podiatrists and orthopedic surgeons defined

by Emily Listfield
foot image

The relationship between podiatrists and orthopedists is something like that of two politicians who claim to really, really respect each other, while each secretly believes in his own superiority. For most ailments, though, the question of which kind of doctor to see is largely a matter of whom you feel most comfortable with. (Surgeons tend to be more expensive, but since both are covered by insurance, money needn’t be the determining factor.) Although podiatrists and orthopedic surgeons treat many of the same conditions, their training is different. Orthopedic surgeons go through four years of medical school plus a five-year residency in their specialty. Podiatrists attend podiatricmedical college for four years, receiving a DPM rather than an MD, and also complete a three-year residency. There is much overlap in the treatments, though orthopedists like to point out that they tend to see the patient as a whole, not just from the ankle down. Many patients swear by podiatrists, however, believing that they are better at offering pain relief. While most podiatrists are trained in surgery, some hospitals allow them to operate only on the front of the foot. Whomever you decide to consult, if you are considering surgery, make sure your doctor has special training in the procedure you need and performs it regularly.

Photo courtesy of wavebreakmedia/

Read: Solutions to Four Common Foot Problems

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Tina Florence09.24.2012

I applaud your wonderful article on common foot problems and how to overcome them. The irony that the number one recommendation is to wear heels no higher than 2 inches was not lost on me, and hopefully not on your editors. Every single fashion photo in your magazine sports models (and Diane Lane) in sky-high stilettos. Why in the world do women continue to buy shoes they can't walk in? Why do they wear shoes that damage their feet, legs, knees and back? Anybody remember the horrors of Chinese foot-binding in the last century? Men don't do this to us, we're doing it to ourselves. Why do I care, you might wonder? Because women like me who want to buy fashionable shoes we can actually walk in have been reduced to less than half a dozen brands. Anybody remember the Taryn Rose shoe brand? Salon styled shoes designed by Taryn, who happened to be an Othopedic Surgeon? Out of business. It kills me to see the twenty-something new mom at the grocery store trying to carry a baby and push the cart teetering on her 4 inch pumps. She should just start a savings account now for the foot surgery she'll need later. How about if More magazine extends the focus on HEALTY LIVIVG all the way down to our toes! Show us shoes we can walk in and restore some sanity to women's shoes!

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