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Foot and Ankle Specialists vs Podiatrists

What is the difference between a foot and ankle specialist and a podiatrist? Both specialize in podiatric care but there are some distinct differences that set them apart.

A lot of the time podiatrists specialize in a specific area of the foot. Whether that be the forefoot, midfoot, or ankle they tend to be experts on one area of the foot while a foot and ankle specialist is trained in all areas.


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When faced with a foot injury, foot and ankle specialists don’t just look at the injury on its own. They take a systematic approach to analyze the mechanics of the rest of the leg including the knee and sometimes even the spine. These steps aren’t taken by podiatrists as they are only trained in the foot and ankle areas.

Foot and ankle specialists tend to get labelled as orthopedic surgeons, but that isn’t quite accurate. Labelling these specialists as orthopedic surgeons implies that they only do surgeries, but a lot of the time they see patients who never even need surgery. If possible, they’ll refrain from performing surgery altogether in favor of less severe treatment methods such as therapies, use of braces, etc. They still offer surgery when they deem it beneficial for the patient or when the above mentioned methods don’t work well enough.

While podiatrist and a foot and ankle specialists both specialize in podiatric care, specialists tend to take extra steps that a podiatrist may not be capable of replicating.
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