What’s the difference between a Chiropodist and a Podiatrist?
In the UK podiatry is simply the new name for chiropody. The name was changed to podiatry in 1993 as it’s the international recognised name for a foot specialist. There is no difference they are essentially the same word. If you look at the word itself, pod means foot and chiro means “to use hands to heal” hence the terms chiropractor and chiropodist. Essentially podiatry is the modern term for the experts in feet. The best way we describe it is to say that all podiatrists can do chiropody but not all chiropodists can do podiatry!
What else changed?
It’s not just the name that has changed though. Podiatry is a constantly evolving profession, the extensive training given to students over the 3 or 4 years of their full time course and the continuing education after graduation enable Podiatrists to treat a vast array of foot and lower limb problems. Along with the most obvious treatments for corns and hard skin, specialities exist within the profession for almost any lower limb problem.
What is a Foot Health Practitioner? Why should I care?
Many of those previously using the titles Chiropodist or Podiatrist who have not gained HCPC (Health & Care Professions Council) registration, either through choice or because they were not eligible, have now adopted the title ‘Foot Health Practitioner’ to replace Chiropodist/Podiatrist which they can no longer use.
the title “Foot Health Practitioner” is not protected in law which effectively means anyone can use it regardless of training levels. You may have seen advertisements offering training that that offer a total of only a few days practical tuition and the rest by correspondence. After completing the course which can last around 6 months students will call themselves “Fully trained and qualified Foot Health Practitioners”
They advertise the same medical treatments as those offered by Podiatrist in places like Yellow Pages, and offer chiropody services; this is actually an offence and may incur a heavy fine. Clearly a Foot Health Practitioner course is not to be confused with the 3 years of full time training needed to become a Podiatrist.
The HCPC (Health & Care Professions Council) has now protected the titles Chiropodist and Podiatrist, see www.hcpc-uk.org or the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists website at www.feetforlife.org for more information
How can I be sure I’m going to receive the correct (and safe) treatment?
Firstly ask if they are a HCPC Registered Podiatrist, it is a criminal offence to falsely claim they are. If they are registered you can further ask if they have a degree or 3 year diploma in podiatry (BSc or DPodM), it is a breech of the HCPC regulations to falsely claim they have. If there is any show of protest at this or if they will only insist they are ‘Fully Qualified’ but won’t be specific, it could well mean they are not.
Podiatrist train very hard to gain the qualifications need to practice safely. The knowledge and experience gained during our extensive training is what sets us apart and allows our patients peace of mind. All staff here at Leyton Foot Clinic are fully trained and registered.
What do the letters that Podiatrists use mean?
DPodM or BSc(Podiatry) – This signifies that the Podiatrist has completed a full training course in podiatry at an approved institution. Originally this course was a diploma in podiatric medicine – DPodM but was later changed to a degree course – BSc. NB:DipPodMed is not the same as DPodM.
MChS or FChS – This means that the Podiatrist is a member or fellow of The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists. A practising member of this society is assured of having professional indemnity insurance cover.
SRCh – State Registered Chiropodist. Since July the 9th 2003 this title is defunct though is likely to be used by many Podiatrists for the time being as it may still be expected by the general public as a sign that the Podiatrist is fully qualified. The current form of registration with the state is given by the new Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC).
So What do Podiatrists do?
A lot more than just cutting nails:
Biomechanics – A common area of practice within podiatry, this deals with problems arising from the way your joints are aligned and your muscles function. Pain from poor alignment can affect not just your feet but your knees, hips and lower back.
Podopaediatrics – This deals with the diagnosis and treatment of lower limb disorders in children many of which are biomechanically related.
Surgery – We provide toenail surgery, but if you need more invasive procedures we can refer you to one of our colleagues. An increasing amount of foot surgery is being performed by specially trained Podiatrists, (podiatric surgeons) usually on a day care basis under local anaesthetic, this means no over night stays in hospital and minimal disruption to your everyday life. Podiatric surgeons train for many years to become experts in performing foot surgery.
Orthotics – These are custom made insoles that aim to reduce the symptoms resulting from biomechanical problems. Often these are used for controlling excessive pronation, commonly known as flat feet or fallen arches, but they can be useful for many other conditions.
High-risk patient management – The largest group is patients with diabetes who benefit greatly from regular foot care and advice, but also those with arthritis, neurological or vascular conditions tend to have ‘high risk’ feet and should see a Podiatrist regularly.
Sports injuries – Often working alongside physiotherapists the Podiatrist’s knowledge of lower limb function and orthotic treatments are put to good use in diagnosing and treating many lower limb sports injuries.
Podiatry should be your first port of call if you have a foot problem & you do not need a referral from your GP to seek a private consultation.