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What is the difference between a podologist and a podiatrist?

What is the difference between a podologist and a podiatrist?

The terms podologist and podiatrist often lead to confusion. While both professionals deal with issues related to the feet, their methods of action and their knowledge differ. The podologist is responsible for podology and pedicure, and treats epidermal pathologies of the foot. The podiatrist, holding a doctorate in podiatric medicine, tends to focus more on systemic diseases. Learn more in this article.

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Published February 16, 2024, by Manon, Scientific Editor — 3 min read
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What should you know about a podiatrist?

A podiatrist, also known as a chiropodist in the UK, is a health professional specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions related to the feet and lower limbs such as: corns, calluses, plantar warts, fungal nail infections, nail deformities, etc.

Its primary mission is to detect and prevent diseases that cause epidermal and ungual pathologies, and to treat them accordingly. Podiatrists are also qualified to assess the biomechanics of the feet and gait, and to detect dynamic and static disorders. If a patient presents with posture, walking or balance problems, a podiatrist can design and prescribe foot orthotics.

What does a podiatrist do?

A podiatrist is a health professional specialising in the medicine and care of the feet, as well as the ankles and lower limbs. The term "podiatrist" is primarily used in North America, particularly in the United States and Canada. Considered the equivalent of a chiropodist, the podiatrist stands out due to their education, notably a doctorate (a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree) in podiatric medicine, which lasts 4 years, and their prerogatives. In addition to the tasks they share with the chiropodist, they also handle the diagnosis of foot diseases as well as systemic conditions. They also prescribe medications and carry out radiological or ultrasound examinations. The removal of warts and the treatment of ingrown toenails are among their responsibilities.

This specialist is authorised to perform minor surgical procedures on soft tissues, as well as major operations such as the repair of tendons and ligaments. To achieve this, a 3-year medical residency in orthopaedic surgery of the forefoot and rearfoot is required.

How to differentiate them?

The primary differences between podologists and podiatrists lie in their level of education, their skills, and their area of practice.

  • The type of degree.

    In France, podiatrists hold a state diploma in chiropody-podiatry (IFPP), which is a qualification prepared over three years post-secondary education. Podiatrists typically undergo more extensive medical training than chiropodists, with a Doctorate in Podiatric Medicine (DPM) or an equivalent qualification obtained after four years of study.

  • Their field of practice.

    The role of a podiatrist is confined to surface treatments of the feet: they are skilled in identifying and managing various foot conditions, including dermatological issues, posture abnormalities, deformities, and more. Podiatrists, on the other hand, are qualified to perform minor surgical procedures, prescribe medical treatments, manage more complex issues, and make diagnoses concerning general health matters related to the feet and ankles.

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