"What's the difference between a Podiatrist and a Chiropodist?" is a question that I get asked near enough every day. People have either heard of only one title or know of a relative who "has seen a Chiropodist years ago".
So why the two titles and which one do you require?
Well to be honest, there is no difference! This may seem a little confusing having two titles for one profession, but there is a reason behind this.
The title Chiropodist has been around for a number of years; in fact it can be traced back to 1785 when a practitioner named David Low wrote about "Chiropodologia or a Scientific Enquiry into the Causes of Corns, Warts, Bunions and Other Painful or Offensive Cutaneous Excrescences" (Dagnal 1983). A Times publication in 1844 stated official census statistics that 58 people considered themselves to be a Chiropodist.
In 1993 the name Chiropody changed to Podiatry; which is the internationally recognised name for a foot and ankle specialist. The qualification has also changed from a diploma in Podiatric Medicine (DPodM) to a degree in Podiatry (BSc (hons) Podiatry). Currently you can only become a Podiatrist by completing a university degree.
The title Podiatrist refers to the modern approach to treating patients; which can incorporate biomechanics, sports rehabilitation, foot surgery, orthotics, wound care and medical practises. Like medicine, the profession is constantly evolving and it is for this reason that Podiatrists are required to carry out continued professional development (CPD) to ensure that their training is up to date.
So there you have it. Although both titles are still recognised and used, Podiatry is the more modern term. The best way to find out if your clinician is fully qualified is to ask for their HCPC number or enquire about their degree in order to ensure that you are receiving the best quality foot care.
Dagnal J C. 1983. A History of Chiropody-Podiatry and Foot Care. British Journal of Chiropody. 48:137-183.