February 01, 2024 2 min read

In addressing foot pain or issues with your feet, it's crucial to understand the distinctions between Orthopaedic Surgeons and Foot Doctor Podiatrists.

Foot Doctor Podiatrists, often referred to as Podiatrists, are specialised professionals focusing on diagnosing and treating a variety of foot and ankle problems. Their expertise lies in non-surgical interventions, offering treatments such as medication, physical therapy, orthotics, and specialised footwear. Podiatrists can effectively manage conditions like fungal infections, flat feet, ingrown toenails, and plantar fasciitis through conservative approaches.

Orthopaedic Surgeons, on the other hand, are Physicians with post-grad specialisation in the diagnosis, treatment, and surgery of musculoskeletal conditions which can take years to obtain. While they are trained to treat various parts of the body, including the feet, they typically handle more complex cases including foot fusions and foot reconstructions. Orthopaedic Surgeons are qualified to perform surgical procedures to correct structural abnormalities, severe foot deformities, fractures, and sports injuries.

When determining which specialist to consult, consider the specific nature and severity of your foot condition. For less severe foot issues, seeking the expertise of a foot doctor podiatrist is often the initial step. They can provide non-surgical treatments and manage a broad range of foot conditions effectively.

If your condition involves complex foot deformities, severe fractures, or requires surgical intervention, consulting with an Orthopaedic Surgeon may be more appropriate. Orthopaedic Surgeons are equipped to perform advanced surgical procedures that require general anaesthesia (in hospital procedures), whereas Foot Doctor Podiatrists can only administer local anaesthesia and perform minor surgeries in their clinic.  

In addition to these considerations, it's important to recognise the role of Podiatric Surgeons within the realm of foot health specialists. Podiatric Surgeons study Podiatric Medicine and undergo specialised post-grad surgical training, enabling them to perform a more extensive range of surgical procedures compared to regular Podiatrists. With advanced surgical skills, Podiatric Surgeons are adept at addressing complex foot and ankle issues that may require surgical intervention. Their expertise extends to hammer toe correction, tendinectomies, bunion surgery and heel spur removal. However, Podiatric Surgeons are not covered by Medicare, nor is medication they prescribe under the PBS.

This distinction emphasises the comprehensive care that Podiatric Surgeons can provide, especially when a more specialised and surgical approach is warranted for specific foot conditions. When facing such complex situations, consulting with a Podiatrist or your GP first, can help you understand if you will require a Podiatric Surgeon or an even higher level of surgical expertise in that of an Orthopaedic Surgeon. 

Ultimately, the choice between a Foot Doctor Podiatrist and an Orthopaedic Surgeon hinges on the specific condition you are dealing with. Consulting with both specialists and discussing your symptoms and treatment options can help you make an informed decision tailored to your individual needs.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.