Podiatrist vs. Pedorthist

Choosing the Right ‘Foot Doctor’ for Your Case

Contrary to what most people believe, there is more than one type of foot doctor. Two specialists which people tend to confuse are podiatrist and pedorthist, especially since they sound relatively similar. However, don’t make the mistake of confusing them if you want to save your time and get what’s best for your feet.

Who is a Podiatrist


A podiatric physician, or foot doctor, is a professional who specializes in studying and treating foot, ankle and lower extremity disorders. He or she is the only medical practitioner who can treat foot and ankle problems. However, while North American podiatrists are allowed to carry out surgical treatments, some countries limit their podiatric physicians’ abilities to only diagnosis and non-surgical treatments. In order to offer the latter, podiatrists need to undergo special training and specialize in performing reconstructive foot and ankle surgery.

A podiatrist’s responsibilities extend to dealing with symptoms and consequences of bone and joint disorders such as arthritis as well as neurological and circulatory diseases. A podiatrist is also the right person for treating the complications that arise from skin and nail disorders, ingrown toenails, and calluses. At times, foot injuries and infections caused by sports or other activities are included in podiatrists’ list of specialties.

Who is a Pedorthist


Unlike a podiatrist, a pedorthist is a professional who specializes in modifying footwear and using supportive devices to treat conditions that affect the feet and lower limbs. During his or her training, they are trained to assess lower limb anatomy and biomechanics (i.e. the study of the mechanical laws related to the movement or structure of humans and other living organisms). As a result, a pedorthist can evaluate, fabricate and deliver footwear or foot orthoses which prevent or treat painful/disabling conditions brought on by diseases, congenital defects, overuse or injury.

Through their diagnosis or treatments, pedorthists can help by accommodating foot deformities, re-aligning anatomical structures, improving balance, controlling biomechanical function, and enhancing the actions of limbs. They also develop follow up treatment plans such as documenting functional changes.

Which Foot Specialist Do you Need?


Your condition and certain habits determine which foot doctor you should go to. A podiatrist will help you if:

  • You run regularly since you’re susceptible to aches and pains like shin splints
  • Your foot or ankle joints just started aching
  • You’re a diabetic since you’re prone to foot problems ranging from skin disease to serious infections
  • Your heel starts aching and prevents you from carrying out different activities
  • Your ingrown toenail is growing stubborn and can cause an infection
  • You suspect a sprain, strain or broken bone in your foot or ankle
  • You require foot surgery
  • You have a painful bunion, callus or corn
  • You suspect having athlete’s foot

On the other hand, consider visiting a pedorthists if:

  • You need special footwear or require modifying your footwear due to special issues such as diabetes, pregnancy or
  • You require pedorthic modalities instead of surgical intervention
  • You want to prevent an injury by choosing the right footwear or modifying it
  • You experience pain and stability issues that affect your gait

So now that you understand which professional can help you in which way, make sure to book your next appointment according to your current issue.