This branch of medicine dates back to at least 2400BC. We know this because of carvings in Ankmahor’s tomb in Egypt. There is more evidence of this in Hippocrates writings of foot care and removing calluses and corns from the feet. Scalpels were invented by Hippocrates to aid in removing skin and hard areas from the feet.

There is plenty of evidence of this form of medicine being used throughout the centuries in ancient Greece and Egypt. Abraham Lincoln had his own personal doctor to attend to his troublesome feet and Napoleon himself also had his own podiatrist.

What is Podiatry?

This is an area of medicine dedicated specifically to the lower extremities, ankles and feet. The term podiatry began in the 20th century and is a specialised area that requires thorough study of these areas of the body. Podiatrists have to learn about anatomy, physical rehabilitation skills related specifically to these areas and the structure of the legs, ankle and feet plus any genetic conditions.

Why would you seek out a podiatrist?

As you have read a podiatrist specialises in feet, ankles and the lower leg. A licensed podiatrist can diagnose you and provide physical therapy all manner of other forms of treatment then it makes sense to visit one doctor instead of seeing a GP then being referred to another specialist.

These are some of the things that a licensed podiatrist can do; prescribe medicine, diagnose injuries and disorders, set fractures and treat injuries, take a medical history and physical examination, perform microsurgery and reconstructive surgery, perform physical therapy and fit casts and prosthetics. They can also take and evaluate MRIs and X-rays.

What is a chiropodist and what are the differences?

A chiropodist is primarily the same as a podiatrist. The confusion about the two names may come from the fact that in some states, regions and countries the title of chiropody was changed to podiatrist. In Australia for instance the name chiropodist was changed to podiatrist in 1977. It was an unrestricted practice before but now anyone wishing to practise and be a top rated podiatrist has to be registered.

In other places such as Ontario both terms are still used. Depending on where they obtained their degree and when they moved to Ontario they can be called either podiatrist or a chiropodist. In the UK the term chiropodist is still used but podiatrist is the more modern term.

Chiropodists and Podiatrists are both healthcare professionals

It doesn’t matter which title is used. Both of them are healthcare professionals trained to treat lower leg and foot disorders. To become a chiropodist or podiatrist they have to be highly knowledgeable of the physiology, pathology, anatomy and biomechanics of the foot. They will have trained extensively in this specialised field and although your GP or family doctor can help with some foot problems it always makes sense to visit a specialist.

What do podiatrists and chiropodists treat?

As you know now they treat the lower limbs, ankles and feet. Looking at this in a bit more of a detailed way they help to keep people mobile and active, provide pain relief, treat infections and prevent & correct deformities.

They can give you advice on what type of footwear you should use and how to take care of your feet. They also treat many day to day problems such as; verrucas, corns and calluses. Sport injuries, gout, athlete’s foot and other fungal infections are managed by podiatrists. They can treat ingrown toenails, flat feet, bunions, odour problems, blisters,heel pain and keep feet healthy.

It is worth going to a podiatrist even for one session to evaluate the condition of your feet and see if there are any areas that need addressing. You can have any hard skin on your feet removed and your toe nails clipped. You may want to take your footwear with you and get advice on what is the best type for you.

They can also help with more complicated feet problems like diagnosing, treating and preventing sports injuries or injuries caused by exercise.

Summary

So you now know that there is no real difference between a chiropodist and podiatrist but that they are both qualified healthcare professionals specialising in one area. They have a high level of knowledge and training about the lower leg area and more so than your family doctor. If you need a podiatrist look around your area and check the services and prices against others. You can use Google to check for reviews and if you want to make sure they are qualified you can look online at healthcare registers depending on where you live.

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