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Orthopedic vs. Orthotic — What's the Difference?

By Urooj Arif & Fiza Rafique — Updated on April 23, 2024
Orthopedic refers to the medical specialty focused on correcting deformities of bones and muscles, whereas orthotics involves the design and use of devices to support or correct musculoskeletal deformities.
Orthopedic vs. Orthotic — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Orthopedic and Orthotic


Key Differences

Orthopedic medicine is a field that deals with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders related to the skeletal system and associated muscles, joints, and ligaments. On the other hand, orthotics is a specialized area concerned with the creation and use of orthoses, which are devices used to modify the structural and functional characteristics of the neuromuscular and skeletal system.
Orthopedic treatments can include surgeries, physical therapies, and medications aimed at restoring function and alleviating pain in affected areas of the body. Conversely, orthotics focuses on providing support and relief through external devices such as braces, insoles, and other specialized orthotic devices, without involving invasive procedures.
Orthopedic specialists are medically trained doctors who can perform surgeries and prescribe treatments. Whereas, orthotists are professionals specialized in designing and fitting orthotic devices, and they typically do not perform surgery.
Orthopedic conditions might arise from acute injuries, chronic diseases, or congenital disorders, requiring a broad and deep medical understanding to manage. In contrast, orthotics often addresses these conditions through supportive devices that assist in movement, correct deformities, and prevent further complications.
Orthopedic practice is essential for severe musculoskeletal issues requiring surgical intervention or comprehensive medical treatment. On the other hand, orthotic solutions are often employed for long-term management and support, enhancing mobility and comfort for individuals with chronic conditions.

Comparison Chart


Medical specialty dealing with bones and muscles
Design and use of supportive devices


Diagnosis, treatment, and surgery
Support and correction using devices


Orthopedic surgeons and doctors
Orthotists and prosthetists

Common Treatments

Surgery, physical therapy
Braces, shoe inserts


Acute and chronic musculoskeletal disorders
Long-term support and mobility enhancement

Compare with Definitions


Involving the care of patients with musculoskeletal disorders.
Orthopedic therapy often includes both surgical and non-surgical treatments.


Involved in the development of support apparatuses for rehabilitative therapy.
The orthotic lab develops custom devices for patients.


Relating to the branch of medicine dealing with the correction of deformities of bones or muscles.
An orthopedic surgeon performed a hip replacement surgery.


Devices designed to assist movement or correct deformities.
Orthotic devices are tailored to individual needs.


A specialty focusing on injuries and diseases of the body's musculoskeletal system.
Orthopedic conditions like arthritis affect millions globally.


Pertaining to orthotics, the field involving support or correction devices.
Orthotic insoles help correct foot alignment.


Concerned with conditions involving the musculoskeletal system.
Orthopedic shoes are designed to support or accommodate foot disorders.


Typically non-surgical interventions to support physical structure.
Orthotic treatments can improve quality of life for patients with flat feet.


Pertaining to orthopedics, used in the treatment of bone and muscle structures.
Orthopedic clinics specialize in sports injuries.


Relating to the use of devices to support musculoskeletal functions.
She uses an orthotic brace for her knee condition.


The branch of medicine that deals with the prevention or correction of injuries or disorders of the skeletal system and associated muscles, joints, and ligaments.


An orthopedic appliance designed to straighten or support a body part.


Of, or relating to orthopedics.


Of or relating to orthotics.


Of, pertaining to, or employed in, orthopedics; relating to the prevention or cure of deformities of children, or, in general, of the human body at any age; as, orthopedic surgery; an orthopedic hospital.


Of or pertaining to orthotics.


Of or relating to or employed in orthopedics;
Orthopedic shoes


(typography) Of Greek typography: having an upright form, distinct from the cursive and chancery types.


An orthopedic appliance designed to support, straighten or improve the functioning of a body part; an orthosis.

Common Curiosities

How do orthopedic treatments improve health?

Orthopedic treatments can significantly improve quality of life by reducing pain, restoring function, and improving mobility.

Can orthopedic doctors prescribe orthotics?

Yes, orthopedic doctors often prescribe orthotic devices as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for musculoskeletal issues.

What does orthopedic mean?

Orthopedic refers to a branch of medicine that deals with diagnosing, correcting, and treating conditions related to the bones, muscles, and joints.

What is the role of orthotics in medical treatment?

Orthotics involves the design, fabrication, and application of devices that support or correct the function of the skeletal and muscular system.

Are there risks associated with orthopedic surgery?

Like any surgery, orthopedic surgeries come with risks such as infection, blood clots, and nerve damage.

How do orthopedic and orthotic approaches differ?

Orthopedic approaches may involve surgery and other medical treatments, whereas orthotics primarily uses supportive devices to aid movement and function.

What conditions can orthotics help with?

Orthotics can help with numerous conditions such as back pain, arthritis, bursitis, diabetic foot ulcers, and more by providing necessary support or correction.

Are orthotic devices always custom-made?

While many orthotic devices are custom-made to fit individual needs, there are also prefabricated options available for common issues.

What qualifications do orthotists have?

Orthotists are trained professionals who specialize in the design and fitting of orthotic devices, usually with a degree in orthotics and prosthetics.

Is physical therapy a part of orthopedic or orthotic treatment?

Physical therapy can be a part of both orthopedic and orthotic treatments as it helps improve functionality and mobility.

How do lifestyle changes impact orthopedic and orthotic treatments?

Lifestyle changes such as weight management and physical activity can enhance the effectiveness of both orthopedic and orthotic treatments.

What are some common orthopedic surgeries?

Common orthopedic surgeries include joint replacements, arthroscopy, and spinal surgeries.

Can children benefit from orthotic solutions?

Yes, children with developmental disorders or injuries can greatly benefit from orthotic solutions to aid their growth and development.

Do orthotics provide permanent solutions?

Orthotics often provide long-term but not necessarily permanent solutions; conditions may require ongoing adjustment and management.

How important is fitting for orthotic devices?

Proper fitting is crucial for orthotic devices to be effective; poor fitting can lead to discomfort and lack of improvement.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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