History of Podiatrists and Chiropodists

Podiatrist and chiropodist are terms that are used interchangeably for describing a medical professional who specializes in the assessment and care of lower limb disorders and diseases.

There is no significant difference between the two. In the United States, podiatrists were initially known as chiropodists, but the terminology has changed. Since the 1960s, all schools in the United States now award graduates with a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM).

The Differences

Chiropodist still exists as a term in some areas of the world, mainly the U.K., which is the primary source of confusion. So, the only difference between a podiatrist and a chiropodist is the country in which the degree was obtained.

Podiatrists practicing in the United States are specialists in the foot and ankle, surgeons, and physicians. They have obtained a podiatric medical school education, and their licenses allow them to perform a variety of tasks, including:

• Surgery
• Prescribe medications
• Set fractures
• Treat sports-related injuries
• Perform physical therapy
• Take X-rays, MRIs, Ultrasounds and interpret them
• Perform microsurgeries and reconstructive surgeries

Canadian provinces such as British Columbia maintain the same standards as the United States, where the DPM is the accepted standard of qualification.

In other areas of the world, the term chiropodist is still used and causes some confusion. In Australia before 1977, chiropodists were unregulated. When the system was changed and required all practitioners to be registered, the decision was made to replace ‘chiropodist’ with the term ‘podiatrist.’


A chiropodist is a term that has fallen out of use in the United States. Podiatrists in the U.S. practice a different profession to the rest of the world as practitioners have a post-secondary, bachelor, or master’s degree.

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