Columbia, TN – People suffering from a range of foot and ankle pain, from plantar warts to plantar fasciitis, may have to choose between a podiatrist and an orthopedist. But is there a difference? According to Dr. Danielle Malin, DPM, there is a great deal of overlap, but there are a few key differences that prospective patients should know about.
Dr. Danielle Malin is a podiatrist with her own practice, Premier Foot & Ankle Care, located in Columbia, Tennessee. As a member of her hometown community, she strives to ensure that her fellow Maury County residents have all the information they need to choose a healthcare provider that’s right for them. Recently, she’s been asked about the differences between a podiatrist and an orthopedist.
According to Dr. Malin, the primary difference between these two disciplines is education. While both can treat issues of the feet, a podiatrist is a specialist in foot and ankle care. To earn a Doctor Of Podiatric Medicine degree, a person must undergo four years of undergraduate school plus an additional four years at an accredited podiatric medical college. Once the core educational credentials are met, a future podiatrist will also complete up to four years of surgical residency training focusing on the feet and ankles.
A podiatrist can offer bunion treatment, hammertoe treatment, Achilles tendon treatment, flatfoot treatment, and more. A podiatrist can perform surgeries, but only on the feet and ankles, as that is where their area of expertise lies. Further, a podiatrist will have undergone extra training and will be an expert in foot and ankle biomechanics. In this capacity, they can help people with foot and ankle problems with custom shoes, orthopedic inserts, braces, and other implements that help restore balance and function to the feet and ankles.
An orthopedic surgeon undergoes a bit more training in general medicine since they are equipped to treat the entire musculoskeletal system. An orthopedic surgeon will have undergone four years at a medical school plus five years of orthopedic residency and potentially a specialist fellowship in foot and ankle care. Orthopedic surgeons are medical doctors, meaning they could potentially treat their patients anywhere on the body, not just in the lower extremities.
Dr. Malin says there is no right or wrong answer when choosing between a podiatrist and an orthopedic surgeon. Both are great options and excellent care providers, but many people find that they are more comfortable with a podiatrist when they suffer from specific foot and ankle pain. Fallen arches, flat feet, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, bunions, and plantar warts, along with ingrown nails, heel pain, and wound care, all fall under the scope of podiatry. An orthopedic surgeon may be the right choice for people needing surgery on more than just the foot and ankles.
In addition to working with adults, Dr. Malin is also an experienced pediatric podiatrist that treats children of all ages in a range of conditions from trouble walking to fungal infections.
Dr. Danielle Malin sees patients for a variety of problems, including foot and ankle surgery, at her clinic, Premier Foot & Ankle Care, in Columbia, Tennessee. Dr. Malin is a staff physician at Maury Regional Medical Center and a fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle surgeons; she is also Board-Certified by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery and a member of the Tennessee Podiatric Medical Association.
Premier Foot & Ankle Care
1412 Trotwood Avenue, Suite 39
Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Sahyadri Times journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.