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What is the Difference Between a Podiatrist and an Orthopedist?

The feet and ankles are parts of the human body that are both complex and widely used. They can also experience their share of problems due to their heavy usage. However, those with foot and ankle disorders may have difficulty in deciding whether to seek treatment from a podiatrist or an orthopedist.

Podiatrists
Both podiatrists and orthopedists are qualified health specialists and are required to complete a rigorous period of schooling, with four years of undergraduate study before beginning their medical training. However, podiatrists are not medical doctors. They will instead receive four years of education at a podiatric medical school before performing another three or four years of residency training. The sphere of the treatment they provide is limited only to the ankle and foot areas. Podiatrists often treat ingrown toenails, calluses, fallen arches, heel spurs and problems related to abuse or injury. They may employ surgical methods and may also treat such underlying health issues as diabetes, provided they are related to the foot or ankle problem.
What is the Difference Between a Podiatrist and an Orthopedist? | West Idaho Orthopedics
Orthopedists
An orthopedist, or orthopedic surgeon, is a medical doctor. After their graduation from an accredited medical school, orthopedists will usually go through about five years of residency training and may also complete a fellowship dedicated to treating specific disorders. In addition to dealing with some of the same issues as podiatrists, orthopedists can treat issues of the foot and ankle including Hammer Toes, Bunions, and Achilles Tendinitis. In addition, orthopedists have the authority to treat the entire body which can be beneficial in cases where foot and ankle problems originate from other areas of the body, such as the hip. Specific to problems in the extremities, orthopedists may turn their attention to the underlying bones, ligaments, muscles and tendons.

The majority of those who experience foot and ankle disorders usually opt to see podiatrists for their initial care. However, it’s important to first identify symptoms and the circumstances leading up to the problems before deciding which specialist is best suited: podiatrist or orthopedist.

See Our Orthopedist for Your Foot Condition

If you are experiencing a foot and/or ankle condition, submit our contact form or call West Idaho Orthopedics at 208-895-0888 to schedule an appointment with our foot and ankle specialist/orthopedist - Dr. Jonathon C. Wolf.

At West Idaho Orthopedics & Sports Medicine we’re committed to providing the best possible care for residents of Treasure Valley. Our dedicated experts work tirelessly to stay abreast of the latest advancements in the field of orthopedics and sports medicine. We’re dedicated to helping individuals recover from injuries and get back to the things they love.


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Meet Jonathon C. Wolf, MD

Dr. Wolf specializes in foot and ankle surgery, including trauma and deformity correction. He also performs total ankle replacements and is skilled in the operative and non-operative treatment of general orthopedic injuries. An Idaho native, Dr. Jonathon Wolf joined West Idaho Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in September 2015, and is happy to be back in the Treasure Valley.

  • Years in Practice: Since 2014
  • Hobbies: Scuba Diving, Mountain Biking, Snowboarding and Travel
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Procedures Performed by Dr. Wolf:

  • Flatfoot Correction
  • Foreign Body Removal
  • Fracture Open Reduction and Internal Fixation
  • Hammer Toe Repair
  • Joint Replacement Surgery
  • Bunion Surgery
  • Calcaneal Osteotomy
  • Debridement
  • Dressing and/or Debridement of Wound Infection or Burn
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