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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, who holds a doctorate in podiatric medicine, tends to focus 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 France, is a health professional specialized in diagnosing and treating 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 treat them accordingly. Podiatrists are also qualified to assess the biomechanics of the feet and gait and detect dynamic and static disorders. If a patient has posture, walking, or balance issues, a podiatrist can design and prescribe foot orthotics.

What does a podiatrist do?

A podiatrist is a health professional specialized 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 (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 perform radiological or sonographic examinations. The removal of warts and the surgery of ingrown toenails are among their responsibilities.

This specialist is authorized to perform minor surgical procedures on soft tissues, as well as major procedures such as the repair of tendons and ligaments. To achieve this, a 3-year medical residency in orthopedic 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 degree that is prepared in three years after high school. Podiatrists generally have a more in-depth medical training than chiropodists, with a Doctorate in Podiatric Medicine (DPM) or an equivalent training 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 medications, manage more complex issues, and make diagnoses concerning general health issues related to the feet and ankles.

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