When you have problems with your feet or legs, you might be wondering what type of specialist you need to go to. Both podiatrist and orthopedic doctors and surgeons work with these parts of the body, but each one them performs slightly different medical services. Here are some tips for choosing the right specialist.
What does a podiatrist do?
First of all, you should become familiar with what each of these medical professionals can provide you. A podiatrist is a medical doctor that specializes in the feet, ankles, and sometimes the lower leg. A podiatrist can help with skin conditions of the feet, along with problems with the joints, nerves, and bones of the feet, toes, and ankles. Any issues in these lower extremities often begin with treatment from a podiatrist. It is not uncommon to see a podiatrist first to get a diagnosis, then if surgery is needed, to be sent to an appropriate orthopedic surgeon.
What does an orthopedic doctor do?
An orthopedic doctor or surgeon is also a medical doctor, but they have gone through extra education and training to specialize in the musculoskeletal system. They don't just work with the lower extremities, but other parts of the skeletal system. In addition to foot and ankle problems, an orthopedic surgeon can help with arms, shoulders, spine, back, knees, and hips. It is possible that you have a condition starting in the foot, but it is related to issues with other parts of your body, so your podiatrist will send you to an orthopedic doctor.
When should you see a podiatrist?
If you have problems with your feet or toes, such as calluses or corns, ingrown toenails, discolouration, or nail fungus, a podiatrist can help you treat it. They can also help you if you have flat feet that are causing pain and you need orthotics, or if you think you have arthritis that is causing pain and inflammation in your foot or ankle. If you have conditions of the skin like athlete's foot, gout, rashes or burns of the feet, those can also be treated with the help of a podiatrist. They also help with acute and chronic pain of the heels, ankles, arch, or lower leg.
When should you see an orthopedic doctor?
Orthopedic doctors also help with the lower extremities, but they specialize more in breaks, sprains, and muscle or tendon issues. If you have joint pain that is starting to worsen when walking or standing, you might want to see an orthopedic doctor, like those at Omaha Orthopedic Clinic & Sports Medicine PC and other offices. You should also see them if you have worse pain when walking up the stairs or when you pull a tendon while working out.