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When you injure your foot or ankle in a fall, during a game, or when exercising, your first inclination may be to see your family physician. If the pain is excruciating, you may opt for an urgent care or ER visit. These decisions are understandable, but they may not be your best choice.
The human foot and ankle is one of the most intricate and complex anatomical structures in your body, marrying the precision of a Swiss watch with the structural strength of a cantilever bridge. Each foot and ankle contains 26 bones - 1/4 of all the bones in your body; 33 joints; more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments; and a vast network of nerves, blood vessels, soft tissue and skin. These components work in perfect unison to provide the support, strength, and flexibility needed for actions most of us take for granted, like balance, walking, running and jumping.
Your family physician may refer you to a podiatrist, podiatric surgeon, or orthopedic surgeon, depending on your injury and the physicians in their their referral network. Which is right for you?
A Podiatric Surgeon
An Orthopedic Surgeon
If you choose an orthopedic surgeon, make sure that they specialize in foot and ankle. But just as with any physician, you should always make your choice based upon their reputation.
Podiatrists and podiatric surgeons provide comprehensive medical care for a wide variety of common and complex foot and ankle conditions affecting children, adults and the elderly. They are uniquely qualified to detect the early stages of diseases that display warning signs in the lower extremities, such as diabetes, arthritis and cardiovascular disease. Early diagnosis and treatment by podiatric physicians may save patients from amputation, restore mobility or prevent other serious health problems.