A lot of people are not clear on the difference between a podiatrist and an orthopedist. Both are specialist physicians, but there are differences in what exactly they do. If you are confused on which one you need to see, it’s important for you to first know what each of them do.

Orthopedic Physician

An orthopedist, also called an orthopedic doctor, is a specialist doctor who is an expert in diagnosing, treating, and preventing conditions and injuries affecting the musculoskeletal system. This means, if you suffer an injury or have a condition that affects your muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, and other connective tissues, an orthopedic doctor can treat you.

Common issues treated by orthopedic doctors include:

  • Fractures
  • Sprains and strains
  • Ligament tears
  • Spinal disc injuries
  • Arthritic damage in joints
  • Sports injuries

Orthopedic doctors can further specialize in subfields, such as pediatrics, sports medicine, spine, upper extremity, and much more. Some orthopedic doctors are further trained to be surgeons. Orthopedic surgeons perform a variety of procedures to treat issues that cannot be treated through conservative treatments. Examples include fixing torn ligaments and replacing damaged joints. Another subfield an orthopedic doctor can specialize in is foot and ankle health.


A podiatrist treats all types of orthopedic conditions and injuries that affect the foot and ankle. If you have a foot condition, such as plantar fasciitis, bone spurs, or a sprained ankle, a podiatrist can treat it. Corns, calluses, heel spurs, fallen arches, biomechanical issues, and diabetic foot care are some other examples of conditions podiatrists treat.

Similar to orthopedic doctors, podiatrists can also specialize in surgery. By doing so, podiatrists can treat orthopedic issues that cannot be effectively treated using conservative treatments. Examples of procedures that podiatric surgeons perform are reconstructive surgery of the foot and ankle, arthroscopic foot and ankle surgery, and Charcot foot and limb salvage.

Should You See a Podiatrist or an Orthopedist?

Determining whether you need to see an orthopedic physician or a podiatrist can be a little confusing. As a general guideline, if you have an injury, condition, or symptoms affecting your foot or ankle health, it’s best to see a podiatrist. If you have an injury, condition, or symptoms affecting any other part of your musculoskeletal system, it’s best to see an orthopedic physician. Additionally, if you have been recommended to get foot or ankle surgery, see a podiatrist. While other orthopedic physicians may be able to perform such procedures, a podiatrist is a better expert than an orthopedic physician in terms of foot and ankle health, and when it comes to surgery, you should not take a chance on an inexperienced surgeon.

Highly-Skilled Podiatrists in Cincinnati, Ohio

If you’re looking for the best foot and ankle care in Cincinnati, look no further than the experts at Cincinnati Foot & Ankle Care. We provide comprehensive care for all types of foot and ankle conditions and injuries using state-of-the-art treatments and procedures.

For your convenience, we have 18 podiatry clinics to choose from. To schedule an appointment, please contact the location of your choice or submit a request now. Our friendly team of physicians and staff looks forward to serving you.