Podiatrist vs Chiropodist: What’s the Difference?

Regarding foot and ankle care, specialized treatment is crucial for patients seeking relief from pain and discomfort. Podiatrists are experts in diagnosing and treating many foot problems and providing advice on foot health. However, there can be confusion among patients regarding the term "chiropodist." Some may wonder if there is any difference between a chiropodist and a podiatrist. The answer is that there is actually no difference between the two terms. A chiropodist and a podiatrist are foot doctors trained to diagnose and care for foot health. In this article, we'll explore the history of foot care, education and training requirements, scope of practice, and more, to help patients understand the similarities and differences between podiatrists and chiropodists.

The History of Foot Care

People have relied on various methods to care for their feet for centuries, including massages, soaks, and herbal remedies. In the 19th century, a profession that focused specifically on foot care became known as chiropody. The term "chiropodist" refers to a person specializing in the health and well-being of feet.

According to the Institute of Chiropody and Podiatry, it wasn't until the second half of the 20th century that the professional title of "podiatrist" was created to recognize the specialist qualifications of the profession. "Podiatry" replaced the term "chiropody" to reflect the increasing focus on foot and ankle health.

The Difference Between a Podiatrist and Chiropodist

Today, there is no technical difference between a podiatrist and a chiropodist. Both terms describe a foot doctor specializing in diagnosing and treating foot problems. "Chiropodist" and "chiropody" are outdated terms that have been replaced by "podiatrist" and "podiatry."

In modern times, "podiatrist" and "chiropodist" are often used interchangeably to describe the same profession. Essentially, both a chiropodist and podiatrist are foot doctors who look at and care for foot problems.


Education and Training of A Podiatrist and A Chiropodist

Podiatrists and chiropodists undergo different levels of education and training, although there are similarities between the two. Podiatrists typically complete a four-year undergraduate degree and a four-year Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) program. During this time, they receive training in the medical and surgical treatment of foot and ankle problems and other areas such as pharmacology, radiology, and biomechanics.

Chiropodists typically complete a three-year diploma program in chiropody, which includes classroom and clinical training. This program covers many of the same topics as a podiatric medicine program but in less depth.

Despite the differences in education and training, they are trained to diagnose and treat many foot problems, including flat feet, lower limb problems, and sports injuries.


Scope of Practice

The scope of practice for podiatrists and chiropodists varies depending on the country or region in which they practice. Podiatrists generally have a wider scope of practice than chiropodists, which means they can treat a wider range of problems.

Podiatrists are trained to treat various conditions, from minor foot problems such as corns and calluses to more complex issues such as sports injuries, diabetic foot ulcers, and deformities. They can also prescribe medications and perform surgical procedures, including surgery.

On the other hand, Chiropodists typically focus on treating minor foot problems such as corns, calluses, and ingrown toenails. They may also advise on foot health and preventing foot problems.

Notably, the scope of practice for both may overlap in some areas. In some regions, chiropodists may also be authorized to prescribe medications or perform certain surgical procedures.

Podiatrist treating feet

Specializations of A Chiropodist and A Podiatrist

Both podiatrists and chiropodists may choose to specialize in a particular area of foot and ankle health. Podiatrists can specialize in various areas, including sports medicine, pediatrics, geriatrics, surgery, and orthotics. Some podiatrists also specialize in treating lower limb conditions, such as knee and hip pain.

Chiropodists may also specialize in particular health areas, such as diabetic foot care or orthotics. However, because their scope of practice is more limited than that of podiatrists, their specialization options are also more limited.

Licensing and Regulation

Licensing and regulation requirements for podiatrists and chiropodists vary depending on the country or region in which they practice. They must be licensed and registered with a regulatory body to practice. They may also be required to complete continuing education courses to maintain their license.


While "chiropodist" and "chiropody" are outdated terms for a foot doctor, both podiatrists, and chiropodists are specialized professionals dedicated to diagnosing and treating foot and ankle problems. When seeking care, it's important to seek out the appropriate professional for your needs. Patients can make the best choice for their foot health by understanding the differences between podiatrists and chiropodists.

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