The choice between seeing a podiatrist or an orthopedist depends on the specific nature of your foot or ankle problem and your overall health condition. Here's some guidance to help you decide:
See a Podiatrist if:
See an Orthopedist if:
In some cases, your primary care physician may refer you to the appropriate specialist based on the initial evaluation. If you are unsure about which specialist to see, it's always a good idea to start with your primary care physician, who can guide you in making the right decision based on your specific symptoms and medical history. Additionally, you can seek a second opinion if you have concerns about the initial diagnosis or treatment plan.
Yes, podiatrists are trained to perform foot and ankle surgery. They can surgically address conditions such as bunions, hammertoes, neuromas, ingrown toenails, fractures, and other foot deformities or injuries.
Your podiatrist may request a medical evaluation by your primary care physician before performing a surgery. A medical clearance is essentially authorization from an evaluating doctor that a patient is cleared, or deemed healthy enough, for a proposed surgery.
The treatment options for a bunion depend on its severity. Non-surgical treatments include wearing comfortable shoes with adequate room for the toes, using padding or orthotic devices to alleviate pressure, applying ice to reduce swelling, and taking over-the-counter pain medications. In more severe cases, surgery can be necessary to realign the toe and remove the bony prominence.
Hammertoe is often caused by an imbalance in the muscles and tendons that control toe movement, leading to abnormal bending of one or more toes. Non-surgical treatments may involve wearing comfortable shoes, using orthotic devices to support the foot, doing toe exercises, and using splints or cushions to help straighten the toe. If a case is severe and non-surgical methods don’t work, surgery can be recommended to correct the deformity.
A heel spur is a bony outgrowth that forms on the underside of the heel bone. It is usually associated with plantar fasciitis, a condition characterized by inflammation of the plantar fascia (a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot). Heel spurs themselves may not cause pain, but they can contribute to heel pain. Treatment typically involves addressing the underlying cause, such as plantar fasciitis, through stretching exercises, orthotic devices, physical therapy, or corticosteroid injections or surgery.
Plantar warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) and commonly appear on the soles of the feet. Treatment options include over-the-counter wart medications, cryotherapy (freezing the wart), laser therapy, topical acids, and surgical removal. Consult a podiatrist for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis that affects the feet. Podiatrists can treat all types of arthritic foot pain, but if pain stems from an inflammatory arthritic condition such as rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis, it is very important to see a rheumatologist in addition to your foot doctor.
Most podiatry surgeries do not require an overnight stay. If your health, age and surgical procedure do not require a hospital stay after surgery, an accredited ambulatory surgery center may offer several advantages, including convenience, lower cost, and reduced potential for developing infection.
Heel pain can have various causes, but the most common is plantar fasciitis, which occurs when the plantar fascia becomes inflamed. Other causes include Achilles tendonitis, heel bursitis, stress fractures, heel spurs, and nerve impingements. Proper diagnosis by a podiatrist is crucial to determine the underlying cause, and develop an effective treatment plan, which may include stretching exercises, orthotic devices, physical therapy, medication, or surgery.