When you need to see a doctor or specialist about the pain in your feet, you probably think of a podiatrist. However, more and more people are seeing pedorthists now too. What is the difference between these two foot care specialists? Why is it important to know the difference and why does it matter who you see about your feet? The answers to these questions and more are below.
What a Podiatrist Does
A podiatrist is a doctor who has extra training in the treatment of foot problems and foot disorders. He or she can diagnose foot disorders and malformations of the feet, perform surgeries, prescribe products to correct foot problems and assess related issues caused by flat feet or taut tendons. Much of what a podiatrist does a pedorthist can do too, except that a pedorthist is not a medical doctor.
What a Pedorthist Does
A pedorthist is to a podiatrist what a nurse practitioner or physical therapist is to a general physician. A pedorthist has not obtained a doctorate degree but is licensed to help patients find orthotics and footwear to make their feet less painful and more comfortable. He or she creates custom orthotics and fits orthotic shoes of all styles and kinds so that you can walk, stand and even run comfortably regardless of the activity you participate in or the job you work. In short, a pedorthist comes at your foot problem like a podiatrist but from a different angle than a podiatrist would.
Why These Differences Matter
If there is something seriously amiss with your feet, or you suspect that another physical ailment is affecting your feet and lower legs (e.g., diabetes and diabetic neuropathy), then you will want to see the foot doctor, a.k.a., podiatrist. If your feet are just sore and tired because you spend hours standing in one place while at work all day, then you could see a pedorthist instead. However, you may not be able to see the podiatrist without a referral from your general physician, and you may not be able to see a pedorthist without a referral from your podiatrist. (It depends on how your insurance company handles billing and/or expects patients and policy holders to proceed through a medical care chain for treatment.) Additionally, if you need surgery on your feet or ankles, a pedorthist cannot be of much help—only a podiatrist can. After your surgery, you may see a pedorthist for footwear that will help your feet and/or ankles heal. For more help finding comfy shoes, check out something like comfort shoes at Foster's Wide Shoes.