Podiatric Foot & Ankle Surgeon or Orthopedic Surgeon?

The following is a blog discussion between patients regarding podiatric surgeons and orthopedic surgeons. This dialogue clearly reflects the difficulty patients have when choosing a surgeon for their foot and ankle conditions. Many podiatric surgeons are not trained in advanced surgical procedures involving foot and ankle conditions, and many orthopedic surgeons may not have the specific training in foot and ankle surgery or regularly perform these surgeries.

Please inquire about your Foot and Ankle surgeon’s specialty training, board certification, qualifications and experience for your foot and ankle surgery.

podiatrist vs orthopedic surgeons

I've been seeing an Orthopedic Foot and Ankle surgeon and may now need surgery. Someone advised me to see a Podiatric Foot Surgeon for a second opinion - that they're better - I'm puzzled as to the difference.....” Clint

Posted by Sharon W.

I am not sure one is better than the other; both podiatrists and foot and ankle specialized orthopedic surgeons are well trained. Podiatrists study medicine as it relates to feet, specifically, during their entire course of study, and therefore they do have more years of study that is focused specifically on feet. They are doctors, with many years of study and experience in providing foot care, but they are not MDs. To become an orthopedic surgeon, you must first become an MD, then go into orthopedic medicine, specializing in foot and ankle surgery. So the ortho surgeon would have the better GENERAL medical background, but less time spent learning specifically about feet.

Of course, and ortho surgeon specialized in foot/ankle IS primarily a surgeon, so naturally his approach to foot care usually focuses on surgery. A podiatrist may be more inclined to look at ALL the possible treatments for a patient's condition and to recommend surgery only if other approaches have not been successful. In fact, not all podiatrists do internships in foot surgery; some do not do surgery at all. But there are other podiatrists who specialize in surgery. These podiatrists do several surgeries per week and who are very expert and well-practiced in foot surgery.

So I guess the answer is, you need to find out what your doctor's qualifications are, and put everything on the table with them to find out where both of you are coming from. Sharon

Posted by Lara T.

My lay impression is that generally, orthopods have more training than podiatrist's. However, that doesn't answer whether any particular podiatrist is more or less trained and skilled in a particular surgery than any particular orthopod (and I would assume that both professions have some skilled artists, and some violations of the Hippocratic Oath). I'd take my podiatrist over most of the orthopod's I've seen (for my feet) because most of the orthopod's I've seen didn't know TTS (tarsal tunnel syndrome) half as well as my podiatrist (although they were excellent orthopods - no doctor knows everything). If I were to have surgery, the questions I'd ask is how many of the particular kind of surgery they have done, and how much experience they have with whatever ailment you have, and probably a few more questions - like on what basis did the dr. make the Dx & treatment recommendation. Does no good to have a doctor great at "x"-surgery who doesn't recognize you need "y".  Lara

Our Note;

Just with any doctor, some podiatric surgeons have extensive training and experience in foot and ankle surgery. Some are not trained to do surgery. Again, some orthopedic surgeons might have the training but not enough experience or cases in foot surgery.  Please find out about your doctors specialty training, qualifications and experience of foot ankle surgeries weather they are an orthopedic or podiatric surgeon.




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