A common conundrum in the world of feet seems to be the question of whether or not podiatrists and chiropodists are the same or if they’re completely different types of foot doctors. To set the record straight once and for all, we’re here to tell you: In the United States, there is no difference between podiatrists and chiropodists. The foot doctors are the same thing.
Podiatrist and Chiropodist Definition: Why The Confusion
The confusion over the words podiatrist and chiropodist stems from a nationwide name change that happened in the 1960s. When the ancient word “chiropodist” began commonly being confused with the English word “chiropractor,” foot specialists in the US decided to change the long-standing name to podiatrist.
However, while the name change occurred in the United States, some countries — including Canada — still use the term chiropodist to name the profession. This means that degrees from colleges and universities from countries that still use the old-fashioned term (as well as degrees from the US that were given out prior to the name change in the early 1960s) will state a graduate studied chiropody instead of podiatry, which is why some clinics still use the former term.
Podiatrist Duties, Average Salary and More
To further clear up any confusion, all podiatrists are technically called Doctors of Podiatric Medicine (DPMs) and have the ability to diagnose and treat conditions that affect the foot, ankle and structures of the leg. DPMs (listed in Forbes as the 15th best paid profession in the United States in 2007 with an average yearly salary of between $170,000 and $250,000) can:
- Perform surgery, including reconstructive surgeries and microsurgeries
- Perform medical examinations and medical histories
- Administer anesthetics and sedation as well as prescribe medication
- Set fractures and treat sports-related injuries
- Prescribe and fit prosthetics, orthotics, casts and insoles
- Order and perform physical therapy
- Take and interpret MRIs, X-rays, ultrasound and other imaging methods
In order to perform the above duties and receive a degree in the field, podiatrists in the United States are required to complete four years of undergraduate study, four years of graduate study at one of nine podiatric medical colleges and up to four years of residency training in a hospital. So basically, they work pretty hard to earn every penny of their near quarter-million dollar annual salaries!