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Podiatrist or Orthopedist: Which One Is Right For You?

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.

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The most qualified medical professional to treat any injury or condition of the foot or ankle is a podiatrist or podiatric surgeon, like those at PA Foot and Ankle Associates.

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 Podiatrist

  • Is a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM), a graduate of a four year doctoral training program at a college of podiatric medicine
  • Has been intensively trained in all conditions and diseases of the foot and ankle and the biomechanics of this complex structure
  • Is the only medical specialist educated, trained, licensed, and certified for exclusive treatment of the foot and ankle

A Podiatric Surgeon

  • Is a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine who has also completed a three year hospital residency with training in all aspects of foot and ankle surgery
  • May have also completed additional training with a 1 year fellowship in areas such as diabetic limb salvage or sports injuries
  • Licensed to perform surgery in a hospital setting
  • Is the most qualified surgeon to correct deformities and treat painful conditions of the foot and ankle, including bunions, heel pain and complications of diabetes, including Charcot Foot disorder.

An Orthopedic Surgeon

  • Is devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of your entire body’s musculoskeletal system: the interworking of the bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints
  • Some specialize in treating the foot and ankle, while others focus on hands, shoulders, spine, hips, etc.
  • Licensed to perform surgery in a hospital setting

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.

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Our Locations

PA Foot and Ankle Associates has 5 convenient podiatry offices to serve you. Click to learn more about each location.

Allentown, PA »

Easton, PA »

Northampton, PA »

Lansford, PA »

PA Foot And Ankle Associates

Podiatrist, Foot Doctors in Allentown, Easton, Northampton, Lansford, PA