While it’s normal to be confused but you must know that orthopaedists can treat all kinds of sprains and injuries in the foot and ankle. That said, you must always confirm that with your orthopaedist before booking an appointment
Though in most cases a referral is not required to see an orthopaedist, you must obtain one if you’re experiencing pain in your ankle or foot. The best is to check with your insurance provider. Some insurance companies would want you to seek a referral from a primary care provider before visiting an orthopaedist.
Orthopedic doctors are trained in diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal and bone diseases. They treat injuries, bone cancer, arthritis and other bone problems due to systemic diseases in the body. They many manage bone diseases medically and recommend physical therapy. They may recommend surgeries like shoulder replacement, knee replacement, arthroscopy based on clinical circumstances.
You should visit an orthopaedist if you are experiencing pain in joints or musculoskeletal pain right after an injury, a hip or knee pain that's getting worse with weight-bearing or any other kind of joint pain that's interfering with your joint functions.
Orthopaedists can perform a broad range of surgeries if required. As of now, orthopaedics can perform around 25-30 different kinds of surgeries including knee replacement, hip replacement, arthroscopy, rotator cuff repair, bone fusion and soft tissue repair.
Although primary care physicians can treat all kinds of sports injuries if they are minor ones, you can be referred to an orthopedist if your sports injury requires a surgery. Some orthopedics doctor specialise in sports medicine and are experts in treatment of sports related injuries.