The reality is, it depends on the doctor. There are exceptional and mediocre doctors in both professions. Podiatrists attend a four year medical school and earn a D.P.M. degree. Orthopedists earn an M.D. degree after four years of medical school. Both professions fulfill a surgical residency. The post-graduate podiatric residency is a multi-year program tailored to the medical and surgical aspects of the foot and the ankle, and related structures. A foot and ankle orthopedist will have obtained a post-residency fellowship for at least six months to one year specifically focusing on the foot and ankle.
          General training in medicine, detecting, and treating medical conditions occurs in both professions. Orthopedists will treat musculo-skeletal conditions only. In addition to musculo-skeletal problems, podiatrists will treat medical conditions and other systemic diseases of the skin, the vascular system, nerves, and joints. These conditions include diabetic related problems, heel spurs, ingrown toenails, calluses, and fallen arches, to name a few. Both a podiatrist and a foot and ankle orthopedist can and will perform surgical procedures including arthroscopy.