When first experiencing foot or ankle problems, your first port of call might well be your local GP. However, your GP will probably refer you to a podiatrist as they deal with the diagnosis and treatment of foot and lower leg conditions. The human foot is made up of more than 20 bones, 33 joints and over a 100 tendons, ligaments and muscles which all work hard to enable you to remain comfortable and mobile. Podiatry is a specialist study and podiatrists are specially trained healthcare professionals who have a huge pool of knowledge about the structure of the foot and lower leg and treatments for problems that may occur.
Podiatrists are the best people to contact for foot care and they will treat a wide range of foot problems from verrucas to infected toenails, from plantar fasciitis to bunions. But when seeking out a podiatrist, people are frequently confused by the difference between a podiatrist and a chiropodist. They are unsure which they should seek. So are there some differences between a podiatrist or chiropodist? Essentially, nothing except their title. They both do the same job. Chiropody is just an old fashioned word for a podiatrist.
The History Of Podiatry
So what is the history? Why have foot care professionals ended up with two different titles? Perhaps the first part of our explanation should involve taking a look at the origin of the words chiropody or podiatry. Chiropody comes from ancient Greek with the word “chiro” meaning hand and “pod” meaning foot. So it becomes the study and treatment of hands and feet. Podiatry also originates in ancient Greek and essentially means a foot doctor with “pod” for feet and “iatros” for physician.
The first known book on the treatment of foot conditions dates back to 1772 and was written by French surgeon Rousselot Paris. In the US treatment was common from the 19th century onwards and in 1895 the first officially recognised medical organisation for feet appeared in New York. In the UK the London Foot Hospital was established in 1911. In WW2 doctors specialising in foot problems were still known as chiropodists, and so how did we come to adopt the term podiatrist in the UK in recent times? One reason for the adoption of the title podiatrist was that, as the practice of chiropody grew in popularity in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the term was often confused with chiropractors, and so the title podiatrist was adopted.
So, can I use a Chiropodist?
So, can a Chiropodist provide foot care? Essentially, they do the same job as a podiatrist, and perhaps the most important things to look for are good reputation, experience and qualifications, along with affordability. You can ensure your podiatrist is fully qualified and reputable by checking with the HCPC register. Here they store the details of health care professionals who meet their standards for training and skills.
Licenced podiatrists are qualified in the following areas:
- Performing physical examinations and gaining knowledge of medical histories
- Performing physical therapy
- Performing micro surgeries
- Prescribing, ordering and fitting orthotics, casts and insoles
- Administrating anaesthetics for foot related conditions
- Diagnosing and treating conditions such as ingrowing toenails, athletes foot and flat feet
- Diagnosing and treating sports related injuries
So, if you are unsure if your chiropodist can provide the same diagnosis and treatment as a podiatrist, you should check out their qualifications and registration and for the most part both chiropodists and podiatrists should be able to perform the same foot care treatments. If you are suffering with pain in your foot, we can help! Book an appointment with us at your earliest convenience.
*This blog contains general information about medical conditions and is not advice. You must not rely upon the information in this blog as medical advice. Medical advice should always be sought from an appropriately qualified podiatrist such as ourselves.