One of our most frequently asked questions is what’s the difference between a podiatrist and a chiropodist?
The quickest answer is that there’s none. There is now no difference except you haven’t been able to become a chiropodist since the 80’s. Now all Podiatrists have undertaken a Bachelor of Science 3 year full time degree in Podiatric Medicine.
To explain, there are 4 main differences between podiatrists and chiropodists and 2 reasons why they did it. People tend to get quite confused about whether someone’s a podiatrist or chiropodist and what is a foot health practitioner/professional. So here are some pointers to help you understand:
1) nothing – the name is officially interchangeable
2) we are really called Podiatrist’s now, it’s just that some people don’t know that word so for ease of still getting business, some still call themselves Chiropodist.
3) the course for it is Podiatric medicine, it’s a 3 year BSc. The previous course was a diploma.
4) they also ‘closed’ the name so that you can’t just do a short course and set up. Now, those people who have been trained using the BSc and are HCPC registered are allowed to use the name. If they are not calling themselves a podiatrist or chiropodist – they aren’t qualified as far as the health professionals council see it. These are usually called foot health practitioners or foot health professionals and are trained to do basic foot care.
They changed it:
1) because Europe and Canada and Australia/New Zealand call it Podiatry not chiropody, so in France, it’s called podologie.
2) chiropody apparently means hands and feet, but we only do feet, so the name using ‘pod’ is more accurate.
Podiatrists nowadays are highly skilled in treating any foot pain, whether it’s heel pain, forefoot pain, ankle pains, or foot ulcers, and can treat patients using loads of different methods from orthoses to stretches and exercises, acupuncture, taping and mobilisation etc, and also deal with ulcers, diabetic feet, rheumatoid arthritic feet, all these feet can present with life threatening issues. You can have specialists in certain fields such as musculoskeletal podiatrists and sports podiatrists, high risk Podiatrists, and rheumatology Podiatrists.
Some Podiatrists decide to become podiatric foot surgeons. These people are experts in foot surgery such as bunions, toe straightening, ankle fusions etc but they do it from a Podiatry biomechanical viewpoint. Some orthopaedic surgeons who do feet too, but the podiatrists who have gone down the surgery training route, are trained to be absolutely specialist in foot and ankle surgery.
Nowadays Podiatrist’s are highly trained foot experts in everything about feet.