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Should I see an Orthopedist or a Podiatrist for my Foot and Ankle Problems?

Orthopedist Surgeon vs, Podiatrist, Univeristy Foot and Ankle Institute

We often talk with patients who aren’t clear as to whether they should see a podiatrist or an orthopedist for their foot and ankle problems. We feel it is important to offer some insight on this topic for our patients and prospective patients.

 

What's the difference between a podiatrist and orthopedist?

The main difference between us and general orthopedists is that from day one, a podiatrist emphasizes the foot and ankle in their training, knowing the end result will be specialized and comprehensive care of the foot and ankle. Orthopedic training, on the other hand, must include ALL areas of the body.

Great staff who put up with my questions and bad jokes. Hope I will not have to return, but if I do have foot problems again, I will go back to these folks. Eric F.

What are the Differences in Medical Training?

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Podiatrists are foot and ankle specialists who perform only foot and ankle care in their practices. The level of training for a podiatrist consists of 4 years of podiatry medical schooling and training, with a specific foot and ankle emphasis. Over the years, the training has become more in line with medical school training and is often in conjunction with medical school students.

Following podiatric medical school, a currently trained podiatrist will perform 3 years of residency, which often involves orthopedic training but with an emphasis on foot and ankle procedures, diagnosis and care. A podiatrist may then opt to receive an additional year of training in advanced and complex foot and ankle care following residency. This is called a Fellowship.

 

Since University Foot and Ankle Institute, like UCLA, is a teaching practice, for the last ten years podiatric graduates from around the world have applied to our advanced fellowship program.

 

An orthopedist performs four years of medical school training with emphasis on medical care. After the medical school training, a medical doctor may select orthopedic training as their specialty. While foot and ankle is included in the care of patients throughout the orthopedic training training, the training must include all areas of the body.

 

Rarely is there an emphasis on the foot and ankle during this time. However, an orthopedist may select to perform an additional year of fellowship training in foot and ankle. This is the point at which an orthopedist will learn detailed complexities of foot and ankle care as we have during out training.

 

Both podiatrists and orthopedists perform many foot and ankle procedures. The care of a specific body part is commonly performed by multiple specialists. For example, both plastic surgeons and orthopedic hand surgeons perform hand surgery. Both neurosurgeons and orthopedic back specialists perform back surgery. This is also the case for foot and ankle care. Both orthopedic surgeons and podiatrists treat the foot and ankle.

 

So who to Pick?

We often note that foot and ankle procedures are basic carpentry. We cut bones or fix bones. We use screws, plates and anchors to repair ligaments, tendons, and bones. This does not differ among orthopedist and podiatrists. There are good carpenters and surgeons in every field and you need to pick the right doctor for your care. Check on the reputation of the doctor and the amount of time they dedicate to foot and ankle care.

 

Equally important is that you like the person taking care of you. You will need to spend time with them before your surgery and during your recovery. You deserve a person who will take care of you and someone you feel comfortable with. It is great when all goes well, but should there be a problem or complication, be sure you can rely on them and they will be there for you when you need them.

 

So in conclusion, don't pick a foot and ankle specialist according to the title after their name, but according to their skills and expertise. Make sure you will be able to talk to them and that they will be available to you. Make sure you trust them and their skills. MAKE SURE YOU LIKE THE PERSON.

  • CustomerSure
    Everyone was very helpful and I was so happy to be squeezed in for a same day appointment. Thanks again!
    Anci K.
  • Yelp
    A few months ago, I visited Dr. Baravarian for a foot ailment that I had been suffering from for a few years. After a couple of misdiagnoses and painful cortisone and alcohol injections. He was able to tell me I had a...
    Tory R.
  • Yelp
    I was referred by a friend and was very impressed.  The staff is kind and courteous.  Dr. Baravarian was excellent.  Reconstructive surgery, and on both feet with 12 weeks of recovery. The orthodics have been a grea...
    Melissa H.
  • CustomerSure
    Very helpful that my doctor plays hockey since I had a hockey injury!
    Kristina W.
  • HealthGrades
    Dr. Yau takes time with his patient(s) and explains the foot condition professionally. I highly recommend Dr. Yau as a podiatrist.
    Art H.
  • Yelp
    I saw Dr. Baravarian for multiple breaks in both feet.  Knowing that I would require multiple surgeries, I was looking for a doctor who was on the forefront of medical technology, so I took the time to find the most a...
    Scott C.
  • CustomerSure
    So far so good. Oh, how I hope my ankle improves!!
    Whitney G.
  • Yelp
    I found Dr. Bob  in 2004 when my bunions were bothering me.  I had been diagnosed with knee problems 3 years earlier, but did not know the problems were related.  My knee doctor told me to come back for a knee replace...
    Janet P.
  • Yelp
    Dr. Franson and the entire staff at University Foot & Ankle Institute - Valencia are awesome!! I had both feet corrected (bunion surgery) by Dr. Franson and he did amazing work!! He is caring, gentle and friendly, and...
    Helena O.
  • Yelp
    Went to another podiatrist for months before seeing Dr. Bob Baravarian.  The Foot & Ankle Institute is run like a well oiled machine.  I got an appointment quickly, he identified my issue in 2 minutes, treated me, and...
    Sean W.
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