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Podiatrist Vs Chiropodist...What's the difference?

By Marlie Cappel, HealthCasa Chief Chiropodist

One of the questions I am most frequently asked is “What is the difference between a Podiatrist and a Chiropodist?” The simple answer is that there is no significant difference between Chiropodists (pronounced: ‘ker-ro-po-dist’) and Podiatrists in Ontario. Both professions are regulated by the College of Chiropodists of Ontario and both must pass comprehensive board exams and provincial licensing exams to be licensed to practice.

The difference in title is determined by which country the Chiropody or Podiatry degree was obtained. A Podiatrist practicing in Ontario will have graduated outside Ontario (usually in the US) and will have moved to Ontario before 1993. All Podiatrists who moved to Ontario after 1993 are registered as Chiropodists in the province of Ontario. Therefore, in an effort to promote the profession of Chiropody in Ontario, there have been no new Podiatrists registered in Ontario for the past 25 years.

In Australia, the title “Chiropodist” was replaced with “Podiatrist” in 1977, while in other countries such as the UK, the designation “Chiropodist” is still used today.

Training and education

Podiatrists and Chiropodists are often referred to as “foot doctors” or “foot specialists”. Podiatrists are required to have a “Doctor of Podiatric Medicine/DPM” degree, which is a four-year, post-bachelor’s degree. Remember, although they have the title “Doctor”, they are not medical doctors. The majority of Chiropodists currently practicing in Ontario have studied for 7 years - they hold a post-secondary diploma in Chiropody and most also have a bachelor’s degree or university level education in the sciences or in another field.

Some practitioners also enroll in additional training and courses; I recently completed a diabetic educator course which expanded my knowledge in the management and prevention of diabetic foot conditions. I love educating patients, helping them better understand their condition, and providing them with the knowledge and preventative tools to live a healthier, more enjoyable life.  Here’s a short video with me talking a little more about why I love what I do!

Treatment of foot conditions

If you suffer from a common foot condition such as plantar fasciitis, bunions, ingrown toenails, flat feet, calluses, corns or warts, both a Chiropodist and Podiatrist can help. Podiatrists and Chiropodists help individuals of all ages and with a wide range of health conditions. They have trained extensively in the assessment, management and prevention of many types of foot conditions. They are also specialists in the prevention and treatment of foot injuries, foot trauma and wound care.

Prescriptions of drugs

Both Podiatrists and Chiropodists are allowed to prescribe drugs used to treat various foot conditions and disorders. These include topical (creams, lotions, ointments), oral (pills, tablets) and injectable medications. Some of the most common drugs that I prescribe for foot-related conditions are anti-fungals, cortisones and antibiotics. My patient’s health and safety is my highest priority, and to ensure that all drugs prescribed are appropriate for your health, your HealthCasa Podiatrist or Chiropodist will always review your medical intake form and will discuss any concerns with you.