Maybe you’re a marathoner experiencing ankle pain after running or you’ve begun noticing signs of arthritis during your morning walks. Perhaps you’ve broken bones in your foot in an accident or you stand around all day on concrete floors. Regardless of your lifestyle, age, or body type, there’s a good chance that at some point you may find yourself wondering when to see a doctor for foot pain or ankle pain.

But what kind of doctor?

Should I See a Podiatrist or Orthopedist for Foot Pain or Ankle Pain?

Although both podiatrists and orthopedists can treat foot and ankle conditions, it’s worth considering what kind of foot or ankle pain you’re experiencing — and whether that’s the only part of your body that’s bothering you. Both types of specialists are trained to treat disorders of the bones, ligaments, muscles, and tendons of the feet and ankles. There’s also significant overlap in the treatments they’ll recommend.

At Spectrum Orthopaedics, all our orthopedic surgeons are trained to try conservative, non-surgical treatments first (as appropriate). Physical therapy and pain management are cornerstones of our approach.

Yet while podiatrists only train to diagnose and treat foot and ankle issues, all orthopedists train to address a broad range of musculoskeletal problems throughout the body. This can be especially important to know since your foot or ankle condition may be contributing to — or resulting from — an imbalance, discomfort, or injury elsewhere in your body.

Our team of orthopedists includes an orthopedic surgeon with additional training in foot and ankle surgery, as well as two sports medicine physicians who specialize in foot and ankle disorders. They see patients at three different sites of service (Brunswick, Portland, and Windham).

If you do need surgery, orthopedic surgeon Dirk Asherman, MD, performs most of these foot and ankle procedures on an outpatient basis. This means you’ll be able to go home the same day. (Learn more here about Spectrum’s Ambulatory Surgery Center and the procedures performed there.)

Spectrum Orthopaedics is one of the most experienced ambulatory surgery teams in Maine and performs thousands of outpatient procedures each year. In fact, Spectrum’s Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC) was awarded the designation Best Orthopedics and Spine ASC by U.S. News and World Report — the only ASC in Maine to receive this recognition in 2024.

What Kind of Foot and Ankle Conditions Do You Treat?

Spectrum Orthopaedics offers a wide variety of treatment options for many foot and ankle issues, including:

  • Achilles tendon tears (the Achilles tendon is located at the back of the lower leg and ankle, connecting the calf muscles to the heel, and is the largest tendon in the body.)
  • Arthritis
  • Arthritis of the ankle; this includes a variety conditions that cause cartilage in the ankle joint to break down, leading to pain and stiffness
  • Arthritis of the base of the big toe (the most common type of arthritis in the foot)
    Midfoot arthritis (pain and swelling in the middle of the foot that gets worse when you stand or walk)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (a systemic disease that attacks multiple joints throughout the body
  • Flat feet (when arches on the inside of the feet flatten when pressure is put on them; most people experience no pain with this condition but if you do experience pain, there are several non-surgical treatments that can help)
  • Fractures (including a broken ankle)
  • Plantar Fasciitis and Bone Spurs
  • Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia, a strong band of tissue that supports the arch of your foot, becomes irritated and inflamed.
  • Bone spurs are smooth, hard bumps of extra bone that form on the ends of bones. They often occur in the joints — the places where two bones meet.
  • Sports injuries
  • Sprains and strains
  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome (compression, or squeezing, on a specific nerve in the foot that produces symptoms anywhere along a path from the inside of the ankle into the foot) — similar to carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist
  • Tendinitis (inflammation of the thick fibrous cords — called tendons — that attach muscle to bone)
  • Tumors

An Ounce of Prevention for Your Feet and Ankles: Running Analysis

If you’re already experiencing foot or ankle pain, you know that it’s time to see a doctor to learn what’s causing it and how to make it better. But did you know that Spectrum Orthopaedics also offers an opportunity to improve your form while running — and potentially prevent discomfort and injury?

Approximately 65% of runners will experience an injury every year that prevents them from running. That’s why our physical therapy team offers running analysis assessments. These assessments can help prevent injuries, as well as improve your running performance.

What Happens in a Running Analysis?

Using video while you run, a Spectrum physical therapist will assess everything from your arm swing to your stride, your strength, and your overall running mechanics. They’ll evaluate your running while you’re wearing shoes and also while you’re barefoot so they can look for faulty body mechanics. (Be sure to bring your running shoes, or whatever shoes you usually run in, and to wear comfortable clothing that is not loose fitting, so your arms and legs can be seen clearly).

Plan to run! You can expect the full, thorough assessment to take one to two hours, though you will not be running the entire time. The assessment includes a comprehensive physical evaluation along with the detailed video gait analysis.

Our experienced clinicians performing these running assessments have advanced training in running biomechanics. They use current research to develop an evidence-based approach to injury treatment and prevention. Whether you are brand-new to running or have been running for decades, run recreationally or compete in major races, getting an assessment will help you feel better and enjoy running even more.

Conveniently, you can get a running assessment done at any of Spectrum Orthopaedics’ three locations: Brunswick, Portland, or Windham. (We accept most insurance plans. Although some insurance companies require a physician referral, we also offer a self-pay option.) Call us at 207-828-2100 to discuss your situation and schedule your assessment.

Whether you are looking to prevent injury or need to identify — and treat — a new or chronic source of foot or ankle pain, Spectrum Orthopaedics can help you put your best (or at least better!) foot forward.

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