Navigating America’s healthcare system can be a daunting task, especially when patients are faced with choosing a specialist to address their specific need. Further complicating the matter is having to choose between two specialists that seem similar, like a podiatric versus orthopedic surgeon. What is the difference? And how is a patient to know which is the better choice for their specific condition?
According to Kevin Myer, a doctor of podiatric medicine at Methodist Hospital for Surgery (MHFS), there are probably more similarities than differences between these two specialties. In terms of practicality, a general orthopedic surgeon is capable of treating all bones, joints and soft tissues of the body, while a podiatrist is focused on the foot and ankle specifically. Additionally, a foot and ankle orthopedist is going to manage aspects of the foot and ankle that pertain to the bones, soft tissues and joints of the foot and ankle, while a podiatric doctor actually manages all these same aspects, as well as the dermatology and biomechanics of the foot and ankle.
Dr. Myer also points out that, from an educational background, the core difference between the two specialties is that orthopedic doctors specialize in medical and surgical management of all the bones and joints of the entire body, while podiatric doctors focus on the foot and ankle from day one of podiatric medical school and thereafter in residency. Although podiatric and orthopedic training is very similar in terms of core sciences and exposure to various medical specialties in residency training, the podiatrist approaches each phase of his medical school and residency training with an emphasis on the foot and ankle.
So which choice should a patient make between an orthopedic versus a podiatric surgeon?
Whether the patient is having a bunion fixed or an ankle fracture repaired, if they are working with a well-trained podiatric or orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Myer believes the outcome will be similar between the two specialists because they were trained with similar principles and utilize the same equipment to accomplish the repair.
A patient should always choose a specialist in whom they are completely confident, but Dr. Myer recommends that, when it comes to specific treatments of the foot and ankle, a patient should probably not opt for treatment from a general orthopedist. A podiatric or orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon is highly specialized in treating specific areas, whereas the general orthopedist is likely more adept at managing hips, knees and shoulders, as opposed to the foot and ankle.
If you are in need of a podiatric or orthopedic specialist, Dr. Myer praises the expertise represented at MHFS in his fellow colleagues, as well as their genuine care and concern in addressing the medical problem at hand and not just performing another surgery. If you would like to schedule an appointment to speak to a podiatric or orthopedic specialist, please call 469-248-3900.