Podiatrist vs Orthopedist

When it comes to receiving the right medical care, you need to know which provider to go to for treatment. In the case of your feet and ankles, you’ll come across two different types of doctors — a podiatrist and an orthopedist. So, what’s the difference between a podiatrist and an orthopedist?

Podiatrist vs Orthopedist

The differences lie in both education and formal training. A podiatrist or Doctor of Podiatric Medicine, also known as a “D.P.M.” must earn an undergraduate degree, complete four years of podiatry school, and receive three to four years of surgical residency.

An orthopedist, or a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or a Doctor of Orthopedics (D.O.) must earn their undergraduate degree, complete four years of medical school, complete five years of general orthopedic surgery training, and some opt for an additional year of training in the feet and ankles.

While M.D.s and D.O.s receive more formal education, they spend less time working directly with foot and ankle problems and injuries. And, a highly-cited industry study actually found that podiatrists have significantly more training that’s specific to the feet and ankles. This makes sense because medical doctors and orthopedists spend substantially more time and training about the body as a whole.

While some M.D.s and D.O.s later choose to specialize — they often keep their practices a bit more generalized. However, podiatrists dedicate their practices only to the feet, ankles, and legs.

As a patient, it’s very important to consider the fact that you need a doctor with the right training and experience to treat your specific problems.