13 answers

Difference Between Orthopedist and Podiatrist?

My daughter has an overlapping second toe that is causing her discomfort. The pediatrician finally sent us to see a podiatrist. We have seen two podiatrist so far and with little luck. The first one put her in a boot to relieve her from pain and wanted to check her hips if the problem persist. As to why I have no clue. The x-rays came back with no breaks, fractures, tumors, or cyst. And normal bone growth. And the second one said to give her tylenol. There was nothing else they could do for her. I do not want to drug my child. And I can not believe there is nothing else to be done. So I am going on my third doctor. Someone told me to ask to see an orthopedist instead of a podiatrist. That they will be able to help her. Can anyone tell me the difference? I looked online and they seem almost the same. A podiatrist helps the feet and orthopedist helps deformities. Does anyone recommend one over the other? The podiatrist didn't seem to want to help her. She is only three. She will be four in July. Her foot hurts her from walking and if she tries to play to long that night she will wake up crying in pain. I am getting really frustrated with the podiatrist. Seeing how her pediatrician seem to think that a tendon is pulling to tight and would just need to be cut. But no one wants to do it. They do feel it is necessary since she is a child and they do not want to interfer with her growth which I understand but to tell me there is nothing they can do but tylenol that just doesn't seem right. Can anyone help? Desperate mother here going mentally insane.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

We went to see an orthopaedic surgeon. He was a lot better then the two podiatrist we previously saw. He actually seems to care about my daughter and does recognize a problem. As for the podiatrist who said it was normal child growth and suggested tylenol for her. He wants a bone scan done to better see what is going on with her body. He also did a hip x-ray that came out fine. But not everything shows up on an x-ray. Hence the reason for the bone scan. Thank you to everyone who helped. I hope we can have a resolution soon.

Featured Answers

I have seen something at I think Walgreens. It is this little thing that you put two toes into, one toe into each little hole. the thing is flat on the bottom and what looks like an "m" on the top that the toes go into. It is suppost to keep the toes straight with out discomfort.

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I work in a hospital. Both podiatrists and orthopaedists perform surgery on the feet. The difference is that an orthopaedic is a medical doctor - obtains his 4 year college degree, goes on to 4 years medical school, performs a one year general internship, then goes on to a 3 or 4 year orthopaedic surgery residency. Performs surgery not only on feet, but on any bone in the body. A podiatrist goes to podiatric school, then usually will complete a one year internship. They train in feet only. The orthopaedic surgeon would be my choice since they are a medical doctor and have such extensive training and specialize in bones.

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If you live in the central valley, take her to the pediatric orthopedists at Children's Hospital. Since they specialize in kids, they will know the most appropriate course of treatment ( be it physical therapy or surgery). In the meantime, I agree that you need to treat her pain, especially if it interferes w/ her activity or sleep. Good luck and let us know what happens!

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A podiatrist focuses only on disorders of the feet, while an orthopedic surgeon has a wider perspective of the whole body. Particularly, orthopedic surgeons relate to the joints of the body.
So, podiatrists are somewhat of a specialist under orthopedics, but are not recognized as such.

We use Arnica gel for pain relief on so many things. It is natural and pretty effective. It may help until you have a resolution. Good luck!


1 mom found this helpful

My son has seen both. I'd say go for it see an orthopedic doc. He/she will examine your child's legs,feet,trunck and make sure they are work properly. Has your child had any trouble walking or any delayed milestones? Maybe the ortho can give you better advise on your child.

1 mom found this helpful

I have seen something at I think Walgreens. It is this little thing that you put two toes into, one toe into each little hole. the thing is flat on the bottom and what looks like an "m" on the top that the toes go into. It is suppost to keep the toes straight with out discomfort.

1 mom found this helpful

Dear L.,
I will say do go see a orthopedist. May be you could try to find a pediatric orthopedist. But in the mean time give your child tylonal for discomfort. I'm saying until you can see a orthopedist. You do not want your child to be so uncomfortable that he or she looses the much needed sleep. I'm living proof what not to do. My son had a short muscle in his back legs and he had muscle spasms galore. We couldn't get him a specailist until he was around 3-4 and he still suffers till this day. So please take this into heart. M. Petersen

1 mom found this helpful

You might also want to try a good physical therapist who specializes in working with children. If there's a way to retrain the tendon (or whatever is wrong) without surgery, that seems like a positive to me. Good luck.

I just wanted to respond, in case anyone reads this in the future....I am a podiatric student. Podiatrists go to a 4 year college then go to 4 years of podiatry school (our schooling is just like MD/DO students, in fact some of our schools are affiliated with MD/DO schools and we take classes with the MD/DO students...I only bring this up to clarify our education) and now it is mandatory for all students to attend a 3 yr residency. It is true that we specialize in only the foot and ankle,however we do look at the whole person, as we have been educated about systemic diseases. In my opinion many doctors, not just podiatrists are somewhat leery of touching a young child (as it sounds like your child may need some type of surgery) b/c the malpractice follows them until the child is 18. Your best bet is to find a pediatric podiatrist or orthopod.

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