33 Difference Between Podiatrists and Chiropodists

33 Difference Between Podiatrists and Chiropodists

Chiropodists and podiatrists diagnose, treat, and prevent foot and ankle problems. Many people use these names interchangeably, although the two professions have important characteristics that might affect patient treatment. Terminology distinguishes them. In the US and Canada, “podiatrist” is more frequent than “chiropodist” in the UK. Both doctors aim to treat feet and ankles, regardless of nomenclature.

An important distinction is education and training. US podiatrists must complete a four-year Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) school. Following residency, they may specialize. UK chiropodists get a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in podiatry after a three-year undergraduate degree.

Differences include practice scope. UK chiropodists address non-surgical foot and ankle ailments, whereas US podiatrists diagnose and treat more. Service offerings reflect this scope difference. Chiropodists treat corns, calluses, and ingrown toenails, while podiatrists are surgeons, give drugs, and utilize modern diagnostic instruments. Different professions have different requirements and licensing. States license US podiatrists to practice autonomously. British chiropodists are regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and operate as part of a healthcare team.

Though different, podiatrists and chiropodists both help keep feet healthy and mobile. They work to relieve foot and ankle discomfort, improve function, and improve quality of life. Locality, severity, and services determine whether to see a podiatrist or chiropodist. Both occupations ensure that people receive specialized foot care to maintain their feet healthy and functioning.







Podiatrist is the more commonly used term in the United States.

Chiropodist is the term commonly used in the United Kingdom and some other countries.



Typically, podiatrists undergo extensive medical training, often obtaining a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree.

Chiropodists often receive education in podiatry, but the level of training and qualifications may vary by region.


Scope of Practice

Podiatrists can diagnose, treat, and perform surgery on foot and ankle conditions.

Chiropodists primarily focus on non-surgical treatments of foot and ankle issues.


Surgical Procedures

Podiatrists are trained in various surgical techniques, including foot and ankle surgeries.

Chiropodists do not usually perform surgical procedures.


Medication Prescribing

Podiatrists in some regions have the authority to prescribe medications.

Chiropodists may have limited prescribing rights or none at all, depending on local regulations.



Podiatrists often have a broader medical focus and may treat systemic conditions affecting the feet.

Chiropodists typically concentrate on issues specific to the feet and lower limbs.



Podiatrists may need to pass national board exams and obtain state licenses.

Chiropodists may have certification requirements specific to their region.


Training Length

Podiatric training can take 4 years of undergraduate study plus 4 years of podiatric medical school, followed by a residency.

Chiropodists may have shorter training periods depending on the country.


Podiatric Surgeon Title

Some podiatrists may become board-certified podiatric surgeons after additional training and exams.

Chiropodists typically do not have a specialized surgical designation.


Common Procedures

Podiatrists commonly perform bunionectomies, toe realignment surgeries, and other complex procedures.

Chiropodists often perform routine procedures like nail trimming and callus removal.


Research Involvement

Podiatrists may engage in research related to foot and ankle conditions.

Chiropodists may be less involved in research activities.



The term “podiatrist” is derived from “pod-” (foot) and “-iatrist” (specialist in).

“Chiropodist” originates from the Greek words “cheir” (hand) and “pous” (foot), but the term is largely historical.


Footwear Advice

Podiatrists may provide guidance on selecting proper footwear for various foot conditions.

Chiropodists also offer footwear advice but with a focus on comfort and support.



Both podiatrists and chiropodists may prescribe orthotic devices for foot support.

Orthotics are a common part of treatment from both professions.


Treatment Settings

Podiatrists can work in hospitals, clinics, private practices, and surgical centers.

Chiropodists often practice in private clinics and community health centers.


Insurance Coverage

Insurance may cover treatments from both podiatrists and chiropodists, but coverage varies.

Insurance coverage can vary depending on location and specific policies.


Continuing Education

Both professions require practitioners to engage in continuing education to stay current with advancements.

Continuing education is essential in both fields for ongoing skill development.


Specialization Options

Podiatrists can specialize in areas like sports medicine, wound care, or diabetic foot care.

Chiropodists may not have as many specialization options.


Patient Demographics

Podiatrists often treat patients of all ages, including children and the elderly.

Chiropodists typically treat adults and seniors.


Cultural Differences

The choice of terminology (podiatrist vs. chiropodist) can reflect cultural differences in healthcare naming conventions.

Cultural norms influence the use of one term over the other in different regions.


Licensing Boards

Podiatrists are regulated by specific state or national boards.

Chiropodists may have different licensing and regulatory bodies based on the country.


Podiatric Sports Medicine

Some podiatrists specialize in sports medicine and work with athletes.

Chiropodists may not have as strong a presence in sports medicine.


Foot Deformities

Podiatrists are trained to address complex foot deformities and congenital conditions.

Chiropodists may focus on common foot problems like corns, calluses, and ingrown toenails.


Professional Associations

Podiatrists may belong to organizations like the American Podiatric Medical Association.

Chiropodists may have their own professional associations.


Cost of Services

Costs for podiatry services can vary, with surgical procedures generally more expensive.

Chiropodist services often cost less, as they tend to involve routine care.


Cultural Acceptance

Podiatry is widely accepted in the United States and many other countries.

Chiropody is accepted in the United Kingdom and certain other regions.


Foot Health Promotion

Podiatrists may engage in community education and health promotion related to foot health.

Chiropodists also promote foot health but may have a smaller outreach.


Use of Diagnostic Imaging

Podiatrists may use advanced imaging like X-rays and MRI for diagnosis.

Chiropodists may rely more on clinical examination and basic imaging.


Amputation Prevention

Podiatrists play a significant role in preventing amputations in diabetic patients.

Chiropodists contribute to diabetic foot care but may not be as specialized in amputation prevention.


Integration with Medicine

Podiatry is more integrated into the broader medical system in some countries.

Chiropody may have a more distinct identity separate from general medicine.


Cultural History

Podiatry has a more recent and distinct history, with the term “podiatrist” emerging in the 20th century.

Chiropody has a longer historical presence, with roots dating back to ancient Greece.



Podiatry is recognized as a medical specialty in many healthcare systems.

Chiropody may have a less formalized recognition in some regions.


Continuity of Care

Podiatrists can provide comprehensive, long-term care for chronic foot conditions.

Chiropodists may focus on episodic care for acute issues.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: What distinguishes podiatrists from chiropodists?

Podiatrists and chiropodists differ mostly in nomenclature and countries of practice. In the US, practitioners are called podiatrists; in the UK and other countries, chiropodists. Despite the name, their jobs are identical, but education, scope of practice, and specialized training differ.

Q2: Can podiatrists and chiropodists operate on feet and ankles?

Yes, however, surgery complexity differs. Podiatrists may undertake more foot and ankle operations, including sophisticated ankle joint replacement and repair. However, chiropodists use non-surgical therapies and may undertake small nail operations.

Q3: Can both professions prescribe drugs?

Podiatrists frequently prescribe more than chiropodists. In many areas, podiatrists can give painkillers, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and custom orthotics. Chiropodists may need medical physicians to provide drugs.

Q4: Can podiatrists and chiropodists treat diabetic feet equally?

Both podiatrists and chiropodists treat diabetic feet, although podiatrists may be more experienced in managing complications. Given their medical and surgical podiatry skills, they typically prevent and treat diabetic foot ulcers, neuropathy, and other difficult disorders.

Q5: How many patients choose a podiatrist or chiropodist for foot and ankle issues?

Patients should assess their foot or ankle condition and services. A chiropodist may be enough for normal foot care such as nail trimming, callus treatment, and foot pain. However, a podiatrist with advanced training and competence may be better for difficult, surgical, or systemic conditions like diabetes. When unsure which specialist to see, ask a primary care physician or get a referral.

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