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Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Surgeon v/s Podiatrist

The foot and ankle provides balance, stability, movement, and propulsion. They are complex structures made up of 28 bones and 33 joints. They are further supported by a number of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Diseases and disorders of the foot and ankle can be treated either by a podiatrist or an orthopedic surgeon. However, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in foot and ankle surgery is a medical doctor with five years of intense surgical training along with advanced training in foot and ankle surgery. Moreover, the knowledge of treatment of all musculoskeletal conditions helps an orthopedic surgeon in having a wider perspective of disease conditions, which aid in the treatment of complex foot and ankle problems. The difference in the training and qualification between an orthopedic surgeon and a podiatrist are summarized in the table given below:

Orthopedic Surgeon Podiatrist
Medical Doctor Yes, with M.D. degree No
Training 4 years of medical school after college, followed by 5 years of Orthopedic Surgery residency, and 1 year of advanced training in foot and ankle surgery. 4 years of podiatry school after college. Many also do one year of internship training. Some do 4 years of training in surgery of the foot.
Certification Both oral and written examinations conducted by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery need to be successfully completed (MD’s only). Recertification required every 10 years. Written and oral exam which varies from state to state.
Usual Treatment Areas Comprehensive management of conditions of the musculoskeletal system, including all bones and joints with their supporting soft tissues, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Thus, they treat not only foot and ankle problems, but also leg, knee, hip, spine, shoulder, wrist, and hand conditions. Most foot and ankle conditions