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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.

The staff is very honest and helpful. I never have to wait long (I am always a little early). They are helpful in every way. Penny L.

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.

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    I honestly wish I never had cause to go here, but I'm very thankful that I saw Dr. Bob Baravarian for a severe ankle fracture. A pal referred me and they also had a great experience with him. From the start, Dr. Bob ...
    Kelly J.
  • Yelp
    I broke my foot while working on a film production. One of my friends told me about the Foot and Ankle institute. They provided a great treatment for my foot and I was pain free within a week. I would definately recom...
    I.S.
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    PT Staff are very nice and knowledgeable. It took me a little time to understand how the PT was correcting my issue, but I think I've been cured!
    Terasa H.
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    I recently saw Dr. Baravarian for an issue I was having with my tibia.  I was referred to him by my primary physician.  I am SO happy that I met him.  After a few office visits with him, and a very successful surgery,...
    Yesenia B.
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    Dr. Franson is my doc and I have had four surgeries. He fixed my toe, as my bones were not healing. He put his heart into fixing me up!
    Melody G.
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    Exceptional care! The therapist really pays you personal attention. Something I especially liked was being asked my expectations for physical therapy at the onset of the treatment.
    Benji M.
  • Yelp
    Dr. Morris was great. The whole staff was very responsive. I came to this office, after having a bad experience with another podiatrist. I live in Orange County, so every visit represents a long drive, but is 100% wor...
    Emilio R.
  • I can't thank you enough for all of those times you saw me at no charge. Many doctors would've turned their back on me the second my insurance ran out, but you didn't and you saw me at no charge.
    Andrew
  • When I came to you I thought my long distance hiking days might be over. But with your care and skill I have had a miraculous healing in my foot. For the many things you've done. Last Saturday I hiked in the mountains...
    Taylor
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    We were very impressed with Dr. Briskin. He comes very highly recommended by several people within the community!
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Same day appointments now available!
or call us:
  • University Foot & Ankle, a Preferred Provider to:
  • UCLA Health System - UCLA Medical Group
  • MPTF - Member Industry Health Network
  • Cirque du Soleil
  • ATP - Association of Tennis Professionals
  • And consulting physicians for:
  • C&S - Cedars-Sinai
  • Saint John's Health Center