When you need a foot and ankle doctor(opens in a new tab), there are several things to consider to ensure you see the right provider for your needs. Foot and ankle conditions are quite common; in fact, 78% of people in the U.S(opens in a new tab). will experience foot health problems of varying degrees of severity at one point in their lifetime. This makes it all the more important to know how to choose the right provider for treatment.

When searching for an orthopedic specialist, you’ll get the best care as long as you keep these four important factors in mind.

1. Who Should You See for Your Foot and Ankle Pain?

The feet serve as the foundation for your entire body, so when you’re having a problem with them, you need a specialist who can examine, diagnose, and treat your issue effectively.

Fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons(opens in a new tab) specialize in injuries and conditions. These professionals are the leading experts in relieving pain and restoring proper foot mechanics.

2. Should You See an Orthopedic Surgeon Only If Surgery is Needed?

Early treatment is paramount when it concerns something as important as your feet. You should see a specialist as soon as possible to identify the cause of your foot and ankle pain. Early treatment can prevent further disability and damage.

3. Does an Orthopedic Specialist Treat Your Condition?

A foot and ankle specialist can treat dozens of conditions, from sports-related injuries and occupational injuries to age-related conditions and more.

Sports-Related Injuries

Sports-related injuries and conditions(opens in a new tab) that a foot and ankle specialist can treat include sprains, stress fractures of the foot and ankle, tendon ruptures and tears, broken ankles, broken toes, talus fractures of the ankle, and many others.

Occupational Injuries and Conditions

Occupational injuries and conditions(opens in a new tab) can include many issues that result from working on the job. These can consist of carpal tunnel syndrome, sprains, tendonitis, broken foot-heel fractures, toe and forefoot fractures, and more.

Age-Related Conditions

As we age, we become more susceptible to ankle and foot problems. This is in part due to the loss of bone density that occurs with time. As such, age-related conditions like malformations, osteoarthritis, fractures, and others can all be expertly treated by orthopedic specialists.

4. Which Specialist Is Best for Your Needs?

Choosing the best professional to help you may seem like an overwhelming task, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some things to consider when looking for a specific foot and ankle specialist:

A Podiatrist vs. an Orthopedic Surgeon

Whether you should see a podiatrist or an orthopedic surgeon depends on a few things. In general, if you have symptoms that affect only your foot, it may be recommended to see a podiatrist. However, if your symptoms affect any other part of your body, such as your back, hips, or knees, you should see an orthopedic surgeon.

Podiatrists are qualified to treat foot and ankle issues, just as orthopedic surgeons are. However, they undergo different medical training that does not include traditional medical school. A podiatrist is a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) with specialized training to treat foot and ankle issues. Orthopedic surgeons are skilled enough to address more advanced and complex problems.

Credentials and Experience

When you're considering which specialist to choose, investigate information about their credentials as well as the experience they have in treating conditions like yours. Are they members of relevant professional organizations?

Where did they receive their education and training? How long have they been practicing? Are they certified in any related specialties?

Getting these and other questions answered will help you determine a specialist’s level of expertise.

On-Site Treatment Options

Any time you have access to various treatment options in one location(opens in a new tab), it will save you time, effort, and possibly, pain. Look for specialists that offer many treatment options right on-site to make everything less stressful for you.

A Practice Network of Specialists

Many of the best providers today work in a network with other specialists in the same field. One of the most significant benefits of this type of arrangement is that ideas, thoughts, and suggestions can be shared among the group of specialists for a wider scope of patient care.

Online Reviews

Few things are as helpful with choosing a professional as reviews(opens in a new tab) from other patients. Make sure to take the time to read online reviews to get an idea of the manner of care that a specialist tends to give to others.

Advanced Technology Use

Every leader in any field will be using state-of-the-art technology and the latest methods and tools to benefit their patients. As the medical field rapidly advances, so too should the technology used by specialists to provide the best care possible.


In today’s busy world, you need and deserve not just the best care but also the most convenient. When you have a foot or ankle problem that needs attention, you need practice with many on-site providers to accommodate appointments. This way, you’ll be seen as soon as possible so that treatment and recovery follow suit quickly.

Contact the Orthopedic Specialists of Southwest Florida

The Orthopedic Specialists of SW Florida is the largest independent practice in the area. Our staff uses the latest technology to provide superior care for patients. Our large staff is available to accommodate your needs. Contact us by calling (239) 334-7000 or online by filling out this short contact form(opens in a new tab).