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What Is a Chiropodist?

Chiropodist treating an elderly patient.
Chiropodists specialize in caring for the feet.
Chiropodists can treat bunions.
Article Details
  • Originally Written By: David White
  • Revised By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 04 April 2014
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    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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A chiropodist is a medical professional who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of foot disorders. Exactly what services a chiropodist can perform and the education required to join this profession can vary significantly by country. In the United States, chiropodists are more commonly known as podiatrists or foot doctors.

Scope of Practice

The practice of chiropody or podiatry differs in significant ways in different countries, although the chiropodist's focus is always on the foot. In the United States, for example, podiatrists can diagnose disorders, prescribe medications, and perform surgery, but in the United Kingdom, they need additional training to qualify as surgeons. Authorities in each Australian state set their own regulations that allow some chiropodists to prescribe some drugs to patients, but this depends on the chiropodist's qualifications and the nature of the medication.

Common foot problems that a podiatrist may treat include bunions and toe deformities, calluses, corns, and blisters. Most are qualified to perform minor surgery to remove ingrown toenails, and can teach patients how to care for the nails and feet correctly. They may also analyze a patient's way of walking — also called the "gait" — to diagnose foot, leg, and back pain, and make recommendations for how to relieve any discomfort. Chiropodists may specialize in caring for the feet of athletes, older patients, diabetics, or people with arthritis, among other areas.

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Becoming a Chiropodist

The process for becoming a chiropodist varies by jurisdiction. In the United States, a career in podiatry begins with acceptance to a school of podiatric medicine. Each school has its own acceptance standards, but typically requires applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree and to have completed significant coursework in chemistry and the biological sciences. Schools also usually require students to submit their Medical School Admissions Test® (MCAT®) scores as part of the admissions process.

Once in school, students begin a curriculum similar to that offered by standard medical schools. New students learn about various body systems and eventually complete clinical training in various areas of medicine. Eventually students begin more advanced, specialized training in the care and treatment of the foot. After completing their Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree, students go on to complete a three-year residency program.

After the completion of school and a residency, an aspiring chiropodist must apply for a license to practice where he or she works. This process usually involves submitting documentation of his or her educational credentials and then passing a comprehensive examination. The newly licensed podiatrist may also decide to apply for certification in a professional specialty.

Educational programs outside the US are not radically different, in most cases, and typically require three to four years of specialized education as well as clinical experience. Chiropodists may need to be licensed or accredited, although this varies by country.

Chiropodists vs. Orthopedists

Health care consumers faced with foot problems often have a choice of receiving treatment from a podiatrist or an orthopedist. In the United States, an orthopedist is a medical doctor or osteopathic physician who has completed training in the care of the human musculoskeletal system. While both professionals can perform diagnostic tests and surgery to address foot conditions, the orthopedist may be in a better position to diagnose or treat problems in other parts of the body that can have an impact on the patient’s foot. Podiatrists, on the other hand, only work with feet, and may have a significant advantage in specialized experience over many orthopedists. Individuals seeking foot care may wish to ask their regular health care provider for advice on which type of medical professional they should choose.

Choosing a Chiropodist

When evaluating a foot specialist, patients should first find out if he or she holds a license to practice or accreditation that is in good standing. The patient may also want to find out whether the podiatrist also holds any specialized certifications; for example, an elderly patient may want to work with someone who has qualifications in geriatrics. Many people also rely on recommendations from family, friends, or other medical professionals. Podiatrists may practice on their own, as part of a larger group practice, or in clinics and hospitals.

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Discuss this Article

anon334228
Post 17

A podiatrist is a foot doctor from the United States who has done extensive studies and more than four years in grad school, unlike a chiropodist.

anon315035
Post 16

Thanks for sharing. Before I came across your site, I had no idea what a chiropodists was. I think I might have to look into it more. Sounds like an interesting career move.

anon304355
Post 15

So, my doctor just referred me to a chiropodist for the pain I've been having in my feet for the past couple of years. Have any of you tried using chiropodists in Ontario? My doctor gave me a list of names but I'm wondering about "Your Painful Feet." Any input would be helpful!

anon263315
Post 14

Is it legal for a podiatrist to not give a prescription even though during the check up he said that we have a problem with my feet? Because I went to a podiatrist and he does not want to give us a prescription even though he said that I need an orthotic. He is selling orthotics too. Is this legal? Where can we complain about this?

anon164654
Post 12

“Chiropodists” and “Podiatrists” essentially belong to the same profession of foot-health specialists who have had formal education (college or university) and are licensed in the area of where they practice. They may differ in their educational background, history and government-designed scopes of practice.

These words originated from different places. “Podiatrist” was created by the Americans and “Chiropodist” was created by British.

Worldwide, it is the growing trend to use the term “Podiatrist” for this health care profession.

In Ontario, the government names and licenses the foot health profession as the “chiropody” profession, not the “podiatry” profession (unfortunately, as the world is more familiar with the term “podiatry”).

In Ontario, generally on the educational level, a “chiropodist” is one who is either Ontario-trained (with a post-secondary or post-university diploma) or who is trained from Great-Britain; and a “podiatrist” is a class of “chiropodists” who is an American-trained or foreign-trained “foot doctor” (but not a “medical doctor”) with a university degree. An Ontario chiropodist can perform soft tissue surgeries, inject prescribed medications, prescribe certain medications, and a podiatrist can do all of the above and also can perform bony forefoot surgery and order X-rays.

I should know. I am a Chiropodist of Ontario!

anon153358
Post 11

Anadolu Orthopedic Center in Istanbul is one of the largest private healthcare providers in Turkey. They treat approximately 12,000 international patients annually, including patients with foot problems.

anon109787
Post 10

In Australia, podiatrists do not go to medical school and they are not doctors. They are an allied health professional, but not a medical doctor. They may be a very important part of the health care team, but it is misleading to say that they perform surgery or are surgeons.

anon101869
Post 9

In Ontario, Canada, chiropodists can prescribe medication. They cannot perform bone surgery, but can perform soft tissue surgery including tendon procedures.

anon80138
Post 8

Chiropodists and Podiatrists are both related to the foot and ankle ailment treatments. They both treat foot related problems, do surgeries and write prescriptions with some limitations in comparison to the GP.

However, Podiatrists in the States are allowed to do bone surgeries, however, in Canada, bone surgeries are done now only by orthopedic surgeons, hence Podiatrist and Chiropodists do soft tissue surgeries.

For your heel pain, you can go to either. They are both fully qualified trained health professionals.

anon64741
Post 7

are chiropodists statutory or unstatutory? i need it for my school work.

anon44473
Post 6

If I have extreme heel pain, who would I go and see a chiropodist or a podiatrist?

anon30013
Post 5

Can anyone tell me what the difference between a Podiatrist and a Chiropodist...what does each one do?

anon25568
Post 4

Podiatrists do not go to medical school. I would doubt very seriously that a chiropodist does. Everyone that graduates medical school is an MD. We can all write Prescriptions.

anon4549
Post 3

Hi, i am a chiropodist :) and we do everything that a podiatrist does except bone surgery (we do soft tissue surgery) and we can't write prescriptions, however we can administer drugs and local anesthesia. one Bone surgery is commonly done here in Canada by orthopedic surgeons not even podiatrists anyways, so we essentially replaced them.

anon2163
Post 2

The UK Statutory Authorities (Dept of Health/Health Professions Council) have decreed that a Chiropodist is the same as a Podiatrist and does the same work. However, there is a different understanding held by many within the professions, which is that Chiropodists generally do minor routine work and Podiatrists are trained to deal with matters requiring more medical knowledge.

anon1335
Post 1

Can a chiropodist do surgery and/or give medicine? I would like to know the difference between a chiropodist and a podiatrist, can you please clear this up for me?

Thank you.

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