What’s The Difference Between a Podiatrist And An Orthopedist?

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What’s The Difference Between a Podiatrist And An Orthopedist?

People tend to think of podiatrists and orthopedists as one and the same. While there is certainly some overlap between the two professions, podiatrists and orthopedists specialize in treating different body parts and structures. 

If you are suffering from a foot condition, such as plantar fasciitis, or an ankle fracture, you will need to see a podiatrist (and not an orthopedist). For any foot or ankle-related condition or injury, visit To Healthy Feet Podiatry in Downtown Manhattan. Our NYC podiatrists have extensive training diagnosing, treating, and managing some of the most severe foot ailments, including diabetic foot and tendonitis. 

What Is A Podiatrist?

Podiatrists specialize in diagnosing and treating conditions and injuries that affect the foot and ankle. Ranging from mild indispositions such as flat fleet, bunions, and corns and calluses to more serious disorders such as diabetic foot and severe infections, a podiatrist does it all. 

Some podiatrists are also highly skilled surgeons, practising high-level foot surgeries. If more conservative methods prove ineffective, you can see a podiatrist for arthroscopy and reconstructive surgery.  

Finally, podiatrists are knowledgeable on orthotics. Their advice is invaluable for helping patients with mild foot conditions choose the right orthopedic shoes or insoles. Podiatrists can even perform a thorough analysis of your foot and commission an orthotic device uniquely tailored to your foot’s dimensions.  

What Is An Orthopedist? 

An orthopedist treats problems affecting the entire musculoskeletal system. An orthopedist who happens to focus on feet and ankle conditions is actually a podiatrist. Otherwise, an orthopedist works with muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons in every other part of the body. 

Like podiatrists, orthopedists can commit to further specializations. Many choose to work with professional sports teams, rehabilitating sports injuries such as ligament tears, joint damage, and herniated discs. Others become orthopedic surgeons and perform complex surgical procedures like limb lengthening, meniscus repair, and hip replacement. 

Should I See A Podiatrist Or An Orthopedist? 

If you experience pain or discomfort on your ankle or foot, you should probably see a podiatrist first. Podiatrists generally have a deeper understanding of foot conditions and treatments. In fact, their entire training is based on the biomechanics of the foot, making them well-versed in addressing a variety of complications experienced by this part of the body. 

That is not to say that orthopedists are helpless when it comes to treating feet. Because of their extensive knowledge of the musculoskeletal system, they can be excellent foot surgeons. A podiatrist may very well recommend an orthopedic surgeon if more conservative treatments are not having the desired effect. 

Comprehensive Manhattan Podiatry

The difference between a podiatrist and the orthopedist is that the former treats foot and ankle conditions whereas the latter ensures the proper functioning of your musculoskeletal system. Of course, feet and ankles are part of the musculoskeletal system, which results in some overlap between the two specializations. One can even say that an orthopedist who performs foot and ankle surgeries is a podiatrist. 

That being said, podiatrists are generally more knowledgeable in treating foot and ankle conditions. As such, a podiatrist should be your first stop if you experience foot or ankle pain or discomfort. Our NYC podiatrists at To Healthy Feet Podiatry will be happy to be your first point of contact for all foot or ankle-related conditions. See what we can do for you by visiting our Downtown Manhattan office or by calling 917-398-3668.


Q: Can podiatrists perform surgery?
A: Yes, if they are trained in it. Podiatry is a broad field, and some podiatrists will specialize in surgery. 

Q: What is the difference between orthopedic shoes and orthotics?
A: Orthopedic shoes are specially designed for wearers with poor foot mechanics. Orthotics are corrective devices worn inside a shoe.

Q: Is podiatry covered by insurance?
A:  Our clinic will be happy to contact your insurance company provider to verify your benefits prior to your appointment.

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