Ankle and Foot
How many professionals are dedicated to treating your foot and ankle? Here are several that come to mind;
- Orthopedic surgeon
- Physical therapist
- Athletic trainer
What are the differences?
A podiatrist is a doctor of the foot and ankle and is an expert on the human body below the knee. Although a podiatrist may have a general knowledge of the body beyond the foot and ankle, s/he is not qualified to address these areas. A podiatrist can prescribe medicine, injections, surgeries, orthotics, modalities such as ultrasound, Estim, laser therapy, and more for your foot and ankle problem. A podiatrist can provide rehab although it is unlikely that s/he will do so since the reimbursement rates are poor, and Medicare restricts physical therapy payments to licensed PT’s. You are more likely to be referred to another provider such as a chiropractor, athletic trainer, or PT. See more below to understand the differences between these professionals.
An orthopedic surgeon is a medical doctor who is specially certified in the musculoskeletal system and then specializes further to the foot and ankle. There are many rivalries in medicine and podiatry vs. orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon is just one of them. An orthopedic surgeon can do all that a podiatrist can do.
A physical therapist is a doctor who is trained in the diagnosis and treatment for the human body using physical medicine such as exercise, manual therapy, massage, modalities, athletic taping, manipulations, and dry needling. PT’s focus on the whole person and utilize exercise as the start for rehabilitation. PT’s are knowledgeable in treating patients through each of the stages of recovery, from acute injury to late stage rehab. Not all PT’s are proficient with the foot and ankle.
Chiropractors are doctors who are trained in the very same areas as PT’s except they focus on the alignment of the spine and joints as the start for rehab. Additionally chiropractic care has moved more into the wellness and natural supplement industry and they no longer focus on the exercise portion of rehab. A good chiropractor is worth gold.
Athletic Trainers can be of a great asset when training to return to sports once you are pain free and no longer in the injury state.
Orthotist is someone who has training in the fitting and fabrication of orthotic devices for the human body. The foot is the most common area to treat due to the prevalence of intrinsic foot abnormalities.
Pedorthist is someone who has special training in fabricating and fitting you for shoes or orthotics for the foot. This is an orthotist for the foot only.
HEP for the foot and ankle