Woman getting her ankle wrapped by a medical professional

Look for the “O” – an “Orthopedic” Foot and Ankle Doctor

A recent campaign by the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) reminds patients to Look for the “O” when looking for a foot and ankle doctor for treatment. In this case, O stands for orthopedic surgeon, which we both are. That “O” is also in our practice’s name: Muir Orthopaedic Specialists (MOS).

Our feet and ankles literally support and carry our whole body throughout our lives. Even if we weren’t specialist foot and ankle doctors, we would say those are two of the most important external body parts.

AOFAS says that 75 percent of people will experience some form of foot pain in their lives. That’s a lot of people, and a lot of different things can happen to your feet and ankles, sometimes highly debilitating things that compromise your basic movement. Foot and ankle injuries tend to get worse if you don’t get proper treatment. When it comes to the feet, time will not heal all wounds.

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We want people to be aware of where they can get the O of real orthopedic foot care, ideally before something goes wrong. So, whether you have a bunion that keeps you from training for that half marathon, you fracture your toe tripping over your toddler’s toys or something just doesn’t feel right down there, read on to learn why you should make sure to find a certified orthopedic foot and ankle doctor to take care of your problem.

Why you should look for the “O”

Orthopedic surgeons are the only foot care specialists who are fully trained M.D.s (medical doctors). This means they have completed medical school and passed their board exams, they then complete five to six years of residency in an orthopedic surgery program followed by a full fellowship year dedicated solely to foot and ankle care. We are well prepared for the most complex cases and have done extensive work in wound healing and biomechanics.

For comparison’s sake, a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine doesn’t have a medical degree. They complete four years of specialized graduate study to earn their degree. Some, but not all podiatrists, complete an additional surgical residency. Podiatrists can provide very good care for many foot issues, but many people see non-orthopedists for their foot and ankle problems because they think an orthopedic surgeon only treats things requiring surgery. That’s not so. Orthopedic foot and ankle doctors at MOS treat every type of foot and ankle issue.

We both have specialization and training within the field of foot and ankle care.

We’ve also given our excellent physician assistants, Michael Garcia and Megan Smith, special training in foot and ankle care and treatment. Working as a team, the four of us can address anyone with a foot or ankle issue who walks through our door. Foot and ankle problems can also involve physical therapy, and we have an excellent physical therapy department in house, ensuring excellent communication between therapist and physician.

Five keys to the best foot and ankle care

The American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society and all of us at MOS want patients to keep in mind these five key distinctions of O’s when choosing a foot and ankle doctor for their needs.

  1. Orthopedic surgeons are fully trained medical doctors who can assess foot and ankle concerns in terms of overall whole-body health.
  2. Foot and ankle surgeons have 10 years of formal education in the medical field – four years of medical school, five years of orthopedic surgery residency and one year of advanced training in foot and ankle care.
  3. Foot and ankle surgeons don’t just operate, they also diagnose and provide both surgical and nonsurgical treatments for foot and ankle conditions.
  4. With their extensive knowledge, orthopedic surgeons are able to treat the most complex foot and ankle cases.
  5. Orthopedic foot and ankle doctors are a great source for second opinions, especially if surgery is recommended.

To help achieve the AOFAS goal of educating patients about the benefits of orthopedic surgeons who specialize in foot and ankle care, they created the website FootCareMD.org. This website provides additional information for patients about various foot and ankle conditions. You can also find out about foot and ankle conditions on this MOS website.

Foot and ankle conditions

If you do live in the Bay Area and have a concern about your feet or ankles, just come see us: Make an online appointment.

If you aren’t located in Northern California, MyFootCareMD.com provides a great resource for helping find an orthopedic surgeon in your area: Find an orthopedic surgeon.