What is the difference between a Podiatrist and Podologist?

25 Feb What is the difference between a Podiatrist and Podologist?

Podologists, Podiatrists, and Chiropodists: What’s the Difference?

Have you ever heard of a podologist? What about a chiropodist? These are all different names for medical professionals who specialize in foot care. In the US, we routinely use the term podiatrist to refer to these doctors. Here’s what you need to know about these terms.

What Is a Podologist?

Podology is not an official medical discipline. A podologist is a medical doctor who has studied the anatomy of the legs and feet, diseases of the lower limbs, and skin diseases that affect the feet. A podologist may have advanced knowledge of these research-based subjects but is not qualified to treat foot conditions or perform surgeries.

A podiatrist, by contrast, is trained and qualified to treat a range of foot conditions, perform surgeries, prescribe medications, and design rehabilitation plans. This is because of the advanced training podiatrists get.

What Training Does a Podiatrist Get?

A podiatrist attends four years of undergraduate school followed by four years of hospital-based residency. Podiatrists must maintain a state license to practice medicine. A podiatrist specializes in treating any condition that affects the feet, ankles, or legs.

Image of Dr Shuman consulting with Patient on Foot care issue 1

Unlike a podologist, a podiatrist may:

  • Set fractures.
  • Administer sedation and anesthetics.
  • Perform medical examinations and provide diagnoses.
  • Treat sports injuries.
  • Take and interpret X-rays, MRIs, and other diagnostic imaging tests.
  • Prescribe and build custom orthotics and prosthetics.
  • Perform reconstructive surgery.
  • Prescribe medications.
  • In some states, perform amputations.

Would You Ever Visit a Podologist’s Office?

There are no clinicians or providers who use the title podologist. When you want foot care, you can consult a podiatrist or an orthopedic surgeon. A podiatrist, however, can provide more direct care than an orthopedic surgeon. Podiatrists can also treat many conditions, like fungal nails, ingrown nails, and ligament fractures that most orthopedic surgeons don’t treat.

What Is a Chiropodist?

A chiropodist is another term for podiatrists. The term has not been used in the US since the 1970s, however, and most practitioners changed their title from chiropodist to podiatrist. Similarly, schools of chiropody and podiatry changed the degree name to Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM).

The terminology also depends on the country you’re in. Foot professionals in the UK and Canada, for instance, still use the term chiropodist, but Australia followed the US example.

When Did Podiatry Become a Medical Specialty?

The first society dedicated to foot care doctors was established in New York in 1895. Today, that society is the New York State Podiatric Medicine Association, which is the largest podiatric society in the world. The first school of podiatry opened in New York in 1911. In 1912, the UK established the London Foot Hospital and a school of podiatry attached to the hospital. The first podiatric school in Australia opened in 1924.

image of feet that dont smell at tropical paradise

Get the Expert Foot Care You Need

When you need expert foot care in Loudoun County, contact Shuman Podiatry & Sports Medicine. Our modern, state-of-the-art clinic provides expert diagnostics and the latest therapeutic interventions to keep your feet strong and healthy.

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