This podiatrist feels comfortable operating on bunions, hammertoes and neuromas - but all podiatrists are qualified to perform surgery! I was recently asked this question by a new patient in my podiatry practice. She came in with a particular foot issue, but when we determined that surgery might be her best treatment option, she asked for a referral to an orthopedic surgeon for a chronic problem with her navicular (the same bone that Yao Ming and Tom Brady have both injured in the past.) In her mind, the orthopedist would be better qualified to address her issue.

I responded to her request with the name of an orthopedic surgeon who I think highly of. I also gave her the name of a colleague of mine, another Podiatrist in Houston, TX, who I feel is best qualified to do the surgery she is asking about. While I do surgery myself, I do not typically operate on traumatic injuries. Even with my recommendation, the patient was hesitant to accept the suggestion of the podiatrist--at least, that is, until I told her that if I or a family member needed this type of surgery, I would not want anyone else operating but him.

Podiatrists are Surgeons by Design

The training of a podiatrist is extensive. After four years of college, a podiatrist continues on for four years of podiatric medical school. Most schools are affiliated with major universities and medical centers, such as Temple University where I attended. After graduation, the podiatrist continues to a hospital-based residency program which is now a minimum of 3 years of training in surgery and medicine. The podiatrist then has to meet additional qualifications to become board certified.

While it's true that some podiatrists choose to limit their practices, all are qualified to treat all disorders of the foot and ankle. I choose to limit my surgery to more elective forefoot procedures, such as correction of bunions, hammer toes, and neuromas, because of the type of practice I choose to have. Part of the reason I limit my surgical procedures is this: at Tanglewood Foot Specialists, we truly believe that foot surgery is meant to be a last resort. We will always consider non–surgical solutions first. We will explore every treatment option to find the right solution for you. 

Any surgery can cause worry, which is why we will take as much time with you as you feel you need to answer your questions. That way, you will know exactly what our plan will be--and why we feel that plan is your best treatment option. We will work together to address any concerns and will have a clear postoperative course mapped out. Nobody likes surprises and you'll find that your surgical experience will go exactly as you were told it would be.

And if surgery is your only option, but I plan to refer you elsewhere? I still believe that podiatrists are the best trained in matters of the foot and ankle and would have one of my fellow podiatrists operate on me over an orthopedic surgeon any day.

I gave my patient the choice between two excellent surgeons. The choice is hers...the best I can do is offer my opinion as to what the best choice would be. If you're faced with a similar choice, be sure not to limit your options. If the fear of surgery is holding you back from scheduling an appointment, don't wait! Often your condition can be managed without surgery. Contact Houston podiatrist Dr. Andrew Schneider for an immediate appointment to explore your options.

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.
This is a really great clarification to get. I have a problem with one of my feet, and I would like to get it taken care of. However, mine doesn't seem to be too bad, so it will probably be fine if a podiatrist does the surgery. But first, it would probably be a good idea for me to actually go in and get advice from a podiatrist on what I should do! Thanks for the article, it was really helpful!
by Grant Harper March 30, 2015 at 07:02 PM
Hi listen I had a ankle avulson fracture three yrs ago was okay but went to doctor got xray saw on xray small bone chip which he could feel with finger was told I could have it removed very easily was told first that he would need only to numb area to remove but now he said it would be better with mild sedation what form of anesthesia do you think will be used for this to be none.
by bob June 23, 2014 at 01:16 AM
Now, I know really how a Podiatrist can do to help every person suffering from pain thereof.
by Podiatrist Office February 12, 2012 at 08:42 AM
Great question! Most patients don't realize that a podiatric foot and ankle surgeon is actually usually more qualified to surgically treat foot and ankle trauma than your average orthopedist. Our training is focused only on foot and ankle surgery, not the entire skeletal system. Podiatrists also often do not have tunnel vision and treat the functional foot as a whole, not just one bone. I hope she makes the right decision and has surgery by a qualified surgical podiatrist.
by Dr Marybeth Crane February 3, 2011 at 07:48 PM
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