What is the difference between a podiatrist and an orthopedist?

If you suffer from foot pain, you can seek medical attention. It can be difficult to decide if you should see a podiatrist or an orthopedist. If your pain is limited to the foot and ankle, seek assistance from a podiatrist. If your pain seems to be more global and can be related to another health problem, seek medical help from an orthopedist.


A podiatrist is a doctor of podiatric medicine, which means he has specialized in subjects related to the feet, ankles and lower legs. Podiatrists can perform foot and ankle surgeries and determine treatment, such as prostheses, special footwear or knee pads.

Requirements to be a podiatrist

To become a podiatrist, you must complete four years in medical school that has classes in medical podiatry and surgical rotation. Once the medical school is completed, a future podiatrist can continue his studies and perform a residency that allows for more intensive podiatric training for six months to four years. Like other medical professionals, a podiatrist must pass their school exams and be in order with the competent state agency, complying with the requirements of continuing education and licensing fees.


An orthopedist is a doctor who specializes in bones, joints, and tendons, basically the body parts that allow the individual to move. Orthopedists specialize in muscular and skeletal conditions throughout the body but may specialize in a particular part, such as the feet or shoulders. Orthopedists also treat other problems and diseases that can affect the muscles and bones of the patient.

Requirements to be an orthopedist

To become an orthopedist, you must complete four years in medical school. Then, future orthopedists complete a postgraduate orthopedic residency, which can last up to five years, as well as one-year research tuition, where the orthopedist can select a body part to specialize in. As with podiatrists, orthopedists must pass college exams and be in order with the state licensing agency.