If you suffer from pain or discomfort in your body, you may be wondering who to go to for professional medical assistance. The medical specialists to consider are podiatrists and orthopedists. Depending on where your discomfort is within your body, going to one will be more fitting than the other. Podiatrists specialize in the treatment of feet and ankles. In contrast, orthopedists specialize in the treatment of joints and bones. If your body is in pain, this guide will help you determine whether you need to see an orthopedist or podiatrist in Los Angeles.
The Importance of Foot and Ankle Health
Healthy feet and ankles are essential to a healthy life and are often forgotten until something goes wrong. Standing, walking, running, crouching, and life in general are made more difficult by pain in the lower limbs. To maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle, your feet and ankles must be up to the task of life.
What Is Podiatry?
Podiatry is the field of medicine dedicated to treating feet and ankles. The field exists to give attention and dedicated care to foot health. Below are some common conditions that podiatrists treat:
- Toenail Fungus: A foul-smelling fungus can accumulate under toenails, creating pressure and pain.
- Heel Pain: Typically a result of heel spurs or plantar fasciitis, these conditions cause pain in the bottom of the heel when first standing, which gradually improves with walking. This pain may return with continued walking.
- Bunions: Painful bony bumps that form on the joint at the base of the big toe are called bunions. They are a common byproduct of wearing ill-fitted shoes.
- Toe Deformity: Common deformities of the toes include Claw Toe, Hammer Toe, and Mallet Toe, which often cause pain and a loss of foot function.
- Corns and Calluses: Corns are extra skin forming between the toes, and calluses are extra skin outside the foot.
- Sports Injuries: These include shin splints and stress fractures. Inflammation is also common in sports injuries and can be extremely painful.
- Ankle Sprains: Twisting or force on the ankle bones of the foot that stretches or tears one or more ligaments on the outside of the ankle.
- Fractures: Types include spiral, hairline, open, and crushed bones. All are painful and must be treated for the bones to heal correctly.
- Bone and Heel Spurs: Bony projections that usually form along the joints.
- Neuroma: Enlarged benign growths of nerves, most commonly between the third and fourth toes. They are caused by tissue rubbing against and irritating the nerves.
- Diabetic Foot and Ulcers: Diabetes can cause poor circulation of blood flow, decreased sensation due to nerve damage, and slower healing ability to infections or open sores.
- Ingrown Toenails: When the sides of the nail grow to curl down and dig into the skin.
- Wart: Small bumps on the skin caused by a virus that infects the top layer of skin cells.
- Flat Feet: Develop from the gradual stretching of the tibialis posterior tendon and the ligaments supporting the foot arch that gradually becomes flatter and more painful from soft tissue tears.
- Arthritic Foot: Chronic pain from arthritis in the foot.
Consulting a podiatrist for your foot and ankle health is the best way to start solving problems for your lower limbs. Podiatrists can prescribe effective treatments, including necessary surgeries to alleviate the discomfort/symptoms.
What Is Orthopedics?
Orthopedics is the field of medicine dedicated to caring for bones, muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. These body parts make up the musculoskeletal system and are the specialty of orthopedists.
Here are some of the common musculoskeletal issues orthopedists treat:
- Arthritis: Painful joint inflammation.
- Cubital Tunnel Syndrome: Swollen ulnar nerve in the elbow causes aching elbow pain, numbness, and weak grip, among other symptoms.
- Fractures: Partial and complete bone breaks.
- Lower Back Pain: Aching, dull, and sharp pain in the lower back.
- Hand Pain and Problems: Pain, stiffness, and swelling in the hands.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: The median nerve is over-compressed in your wrist, causing pain and hand weakness.
- Knee Problems: Sprains, torn cartilage, torn ligaments, arthritis, and tendonitis all damage the knee joint, resulting in pain, reduced range of motion, and knee mobility.
- Torn Meniscus: The meniscus is connective tissue within the knee, and when torn, there is pain, stiffness, and joint instability.
- Neck Problems: Pain and injuries to the neck from mild to extreme.
- Osteoporosis: A disease that degrades bones, increasing the risk of broken bones.
- Scoliosis: Improper curvature of the spine, leading to structural problems for the body.
- Shoulder Problems: Injuries and inflammation in the shoulder cause pain and movement issues in the region.
It is best to see an orthopedist if you have chronic pain in a part of the body or have difficulty moving parts of your body.
When to Choose a Podiatrist Over an Orthopedic Specialist
A primary indicator in choosing a podiatrist over an orthopedic specialist is when the issue involves your feet or ankles. Both can technically treat foot and ankle conditions, but the podiatrist is the greater authority in this area, as it is their realm of focused expertise.
Finding the right specialist is the most crucial step in treating your health concerns. Remember, seeing an orthopedist when you have trouble with your bones and joints is best. On the other hand, seeing a podiatrist is more beneficial for concerns involving your feet and ankles.
Keeping up your foot and ankle health is necessary for a healthy lifestyle. Don’t take your foot health for granted. Consult with a Los Angeles podiatrist immediately for foot and ankle discomfort or ailments.