Foot Anatomy

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Also visit www.foothealthfacts.org to learn more about what conditions are treated by podiatric foot & ankle surgeons.


 

Many patients ask:

What is the difference between a podiatric surgeon and an orthopedic surgeon?

 

The short answer is that both podiatrists and orthopedists perform surgery on the foot and ankle. This is similar to neurosurgeons and orthopedists both performing back surgery or dermatologists and plastic surgeons both performing cosmetic surgery.

Yet there are some distinctions in choosing a podiatric surgeon for your foot and ankle care:

  • While being the same 4 year length as osteopathic (DO) and allopathic (MD) medical school and covering the same basic and clinical sciences, the podiatric medical school curriculum provides additional intense focus on conditions of the foot, ankle and lower leg.
  • Podiatric surgeons typically complete 3 years of intense residency training in complex foot and ankle surgery. General orthopedists who desire to pursue additional training in foot and ankle surgery typically complete a 1 year fellowship.
  • As Fellows of the American College of Foot & Ankle Surgeons, podiatric surgeons remain among a group of the only physicians who are Board Certified in Foot Surgery and/or Reconstructive Rearfoot Surgery.

 

The foot is made up of 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles, and numerous tendons. Complex biomechanics keep all these parts in the right position and moving together. Given these intricacies, it is not surprising that most people will experience some problem with their feet at some time in their lives.

Within each foot, the essential structure can be summed up as follows:

  • Seven short tarsal bones make up the heel and back of the instep.
  • Five metatarsal bones spread from the back of the foot toward front and make up the structure for the ball of the foot. Each metatarsal is associated with one of the toes.
  • Fourteen phalanges, small bones, form the toe structure.
  • Tarsal and metatarsal bones provide the structure for the arch of the foot.
  • Bands of ligaments connect and hold all the bones in place.
  • A thick layer of fatty tissue under the sole helps absorb the pressure and shock that comes from walking and everyday movements.