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"Is an orthopedist a foot doctor?"

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Updated June 04, 2014

I am often asked "what is an orthopedist?" Are you a foot doctor? A bone doctor? An orthopedist, also called an orthopedic surgeon, is a physician trained in the treatment of the musculoskeletal system (bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves). An orthopedist often treats foot problems, but many other problems as well!

The Greek word 'ortho' means straight and 'pedics' comes from the Greek 'pais' meaning children. For many centuries, orthopedists have been involved in the treatment of crippled children.

Orthopedic surgeons were the specialists who cared for the children who had crooked spines and other musculoskeletal deformities. Over the years, the field has expanded to encompass many subspecialties and the treatment of a wide variety of musculoskeletal disorders in patients of all ages.

A specialist in foot problems can either be an orthopedic surgeon who has specialized in the treatment of foot and ankle disorders, or a podiatrist. A podiatrist is a doctor who has gone to a podiatry school to train in the treatment of foot and ankle disorders.

Related: Information About the Specialty of Orthopedics

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