With more education and training specific to the foot and ankle than any other healthcare provider, foot and ankle surgeons are the leading experts in foot and ankle care today.
The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) invites you to take a new look at foot and ankle surgeons.Play Video
What do Podiatric Foot and Ankle Surgeons do?
Podiatric Foot and Ankle Surgeons are Doctors of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) who specialize medically and surgically in the diagnosis, care, and treatment of patients with disorders of the musculoskeletal system of the foot and ankle and associated structures.
This includes the bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, tendons, nerves, and skin. Podiatric foot and ankle surgeons use medical, physical, and rehabilitative methods as well as surgery to treat patients of all ages, and when necessary, consult with a variety of specialists in the fields of renal/endocrine, rheumatology, pediatrics, vascular, orthopedics, and plastic surgery, to develop a comprehensive treatment plan for patients.
Podiatric medical school curriculum and post-graduate training provides the robust clinical background necessary to recognize medical problems, admit patients to a hospital when necessary, and contribute significantly to the coordination of care appropriate for each patient.
Podiatric Foot and Ankle Surgeons have the following credentials:
- Completed of a Doctoral program in Podiatric Medicine. The curriculum covers basic and clinical sciences, surgery, internal medicine, pediatrics, family medicine and other medical specialties.
- Completed of accredited graduate medical education (residency training) focused on medicine and surgery of the foot and ankle
- Many podiatric foot and ankle surgeons also complete advanced fellowship training in foot and ankle surgery
- Completion of the state and national podiatric medical licensing examination
- Annual requirements for medical and surgical continuing medical education credits
- Board certification: Certified by or eligible for examination and certification by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery and the American Board of Podiatric Medicine
- Each member holds membership in the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons
The Podiatric Difference
When selecting a Doctor and or Surgeon to care for your foot and ankle, be sure to ask about:
- Medical school education
- Accredited residency training
- Areas of practice specialization
- Experience in your prescribed treatment (surgical and/or non-surgical)
Frequently Asked Questions
Foot and ankle surgeons, also known as podiatric foot and ankle surgeons, are the leading experts for a wide range of simple to complex foot and ankle care. They have more education and training specific to the foot and ankle than any other healthcare provider. They undergo a comprehensive, rigorous certification process to ensure they are qualified to treat all foot and ankle conditions.
Foot and ankle surgeons are specialists who have more education and training in foot and ankle care than any other healthcare professional. They complete four years of postgraduate podiatric medical school to earn their Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree (DPM). Like all physicians, this is followed by a three-year residency with complete rotations through hospital departments and full exposure to all pathologies. Many also pursue a post-residency fellowship program in areas like sports medicine, diabetic care or deformity correction.
All ACFAS members are board-certified (FACFAS) or board-qualified (AACFAS) by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery, an independent, non-profit certifying agency. The demanding, comprehensive certification process encompasses passing written examinations, submitting simple and complex surgical cases and completing simulations of cases. This ensures ACFAS members perform a diverse and extensive range of foot and ankle surgeries and that they have demonstrated the highest level of proficiency to earn board certification. To demonstrate continued proficiency, foot and ankle surgeons must be recertified every 10 years.
All board certifications are not the same – so look for FACFAS or AACFAS when you refer your patient to a foot and ankle surgeon.
Foot and ankle surgeons treat patients of all ages, pediatric through geriatric. They diagnose the full spectrum of foot and ankle conditions and develop treatment plans ranging from conservative management of a chronic issue to complex surgical procedures. They are the experts in foot and ankle care.
Foot and ankle surgeons treat all conditions affecting the foot and ankle in patients of all ages, from the simple to complex, including:
Fracture repair of the foot and ankle
Diabetic foot care & complications
Ankle and foot arthritis
Foot and ankle trauma
Foreign body injuries
Foot and ankle surgeons are also uniquely qualified to detect diseases that exhibit warning signs in the lower extremities such as diabetes, arthritis and cardiovascular disease.
Foot and ankle surgeons are qualified to perform a wide range of surgeries, including but not limited to:
Ankle ligament surgery
Ankle joint replacement surgery
Ankle deformity correction surgery
Yes they are!
The terms foot and ankle surgeon and podiatric surgeon can be used interchangeably. Foot and ankle surgeons are DPMs – Doctors of Podiatric Medicine – who have undergone extensive education, training and board certification focused on the foot and ankle. They undergo more education and training specific to the foot and ankle than any healthcare provider and are the leading experts for a wide range of complex foot and ankle care.
There are almost 23,000 orthopedic surgeons in active practice in the United States. New Hampshire has the highest number of orthopedists per 100,000 population, with 11.32, and New Mexico has the lowest number, with only 5.48 orthopedic surgeons per 100,000 population. Additionally, the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society has a membership of 2,200, which includes both MDs and DOs. This means that approximately 91.4% of orthopedists in the US do not specialize in foot and ankle conditions.
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), there are more than 18,000 podiatric physicians in the US. The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons lists 7,800 members who are exclusively involved in Podiatric Foot and Ankle Surgery, and nothing else.
Podiatric Foot and Ankle Surgeons specialize from day-one, limit their practices to foot and ankle surgery, and perform a higher volume of foot and ankle surgical training for a longer period of time. They are board-certified by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery, the ONLY board certification specific to foot and ankle surgery.
Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Surgeons begin as general orthopedic surgeons, specializing at the end of their training, and then for a more limited time, usually in their final six months to one year of training. They may generally have a more limited exposure to foot and ankle surgical training. They are certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery, or other boards, in general orthopedic surgery, NOT in foot and ankle surgery specifically.
Only Podiatric Foot and Ankle Surgeons are board certified in foot and ankle surgery by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery.
Orthopedic surgeons are board certified in orthopedic surgery.
Both specialties complete an undergraduate degree, doctoral degree, residency training, and usually, fellowships at accredited medical schools and teaching hospitals nation-wide.
From the standpoint of training, the main difference between the two specialties is:
Podiatric Foot and Ankle Surgeons specialize from day-one and limit their practices to foot and ankle surgery. The entire course of their surgical training focuses on the impact of systemic disease and medical specialty rotations on the foot and ankle. Research also shows that Podiatric Foot and Ankle Surgeons generally perform a higher volume of foot and ankle surgery training, and for longer periods of time, generally three years, with one or two additional years of fellowship.
Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Surgeons begin their training as general orthopedic surgeons, with generalized exposure to other orthopedic sub-specialties; Research has shown that rarely is there an emphasis on the foot and ankle during this time. After completing general orthopedic residency, an orthopedist may select to perform an additional period of fellowship training in foot and ankle. This is the point at which an orthopedist will learn detailed complexities of foot and ankle surgery, generally lasting only six months to one year.
Recent research shows that the average orthopedic surgeon completes on average 200 cases in foot and ankle surgery over the course of their residency training. (1)
Podiatric foot and ankle surgical residencies complete at least TWICE that amount, with top programs completing a thousand cases or more. (2)
1. Foot and Ankle Specialist, Vol 10. Number 8 Variability in Foot and Ankle Case Volume in Orthopedic Residency Training
2. Council of Podiatric Medical Education; Standards and Requirements for Approval of Podiatric Foot and Ankle Surgical Training
Foot and ankle surgeons today are the leading experts for a wide range of complex foot and ankle care. They have the most education and training specific to the foot and ankle and undergo the most rigorous, comprehensive certification process of any specialist. They are collaborative members of multidisciplinary patient care teams and innovators in treatment protocols and surgical procedures.
Foot and ankle surgeons today are dedicated to advancing the science of the profession and continually expanding and improving treatment options through research. They are innovators in the treatment of common foot and ankle issues such as flatfoot surgery, chronic heel pain and hammertoe. Millions of patients have benefited from these innovations.
Any time your patients need a skilled specialist is the time to refer them to a foot and ankle surgeon. Foot and ankle surgeons are qualified to diagnose and treat any foot and ankle condition – from the simple to the complex. Foot and ankle surgeons regularly collaborate with a wide range of healthcare providers in both outpatient and inpatient settings, for patients of all ages.
We invite you to visit Take a New Look at Foot and Ankle Surgeons to learn more about why Podiatric Foot and Ankle Surgeons are the premier choice for foot and ankle care.
For more information, download these fact sheets: