The Differences Between Podologists And Podiatrists

Updated on March 25, 2021

Podiatrists and podologists are both medical practitioners who specialize in conditions and ailments related to the human foot. 

However, there are some crucial differences between these two types of doctors. 

Podologists and Podiatrists differ primarily in their scope of practice – Podiatrists are medical professionals devoted to treating foot disorders.

However, podiatry is a medical specialty that studies, diagnoses, and treats conditions of the feet, ankles, and lower extremities.

In reality, there are many crossovers, and the terms are somewhat interchangeable in different parts of the world.

However, the main difference would seem that Podology is more focused on the academic side of things and the lower limbs’ study.

What Does a Podologist Do?

Podiatric medicine is a branch that treats disorders of the feet, ankles, lower extremities, medically and surgically. 

Since the 20th century, the term podiatry has gained widespread acceptance, now being used throughout the world, not just in the United States, but everywhere.

Many countries recognize podiatry as a profession, while in English-speaking countries, the term chiropodist may be commonly used by some practitioners (quite distinct from chiropractic, which is unrelated). 

Different countries have different levels and scopes of the practice of podiatry.

Podiatric Medicine consists of analyzing and treating structures within the foot. A Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) is an individual who specializes in this field of medicine. 

The curriculum of US podiatric medical schools includes:

  • Anatomy of the lower extremities
  • Human anatomy in general
  • Physiology
  • General medicine
  • Physiological assessment
  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics
  • Embryology
  • Microbiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physical rehabilitation
  • Sports medicine
  • Biomechanics

They also include orthopedic surgery principles, as well as principles of foot and ankle surgery.

What Does a Podiatrist Do?

A podiatrist foot doctor is an often confusing term used commonly by many people in America today. 

A podiatrist specializes in treating conditions in the foot, ankle, or lower portion of one’s legs. Podiatry treatments may range from repairing minor injuries to treating other health issues affecting the foot, including diabetes, nail and skin problems, arthritis, etc.

Some of the common ailments treated by podiatrists include fungal infections of the nails, flat foot, bunion deformities, corns and calluses on the feet and ankle, hammertoe deformities, foot pain associated with joint disorders, high cholesterol, and a host of others. 

The most common surgeries performed by a podiatrist include orthopedic surgeries, especially for the foot, and some more complex ones, like arthroscopy, nerve root surgery, and foot surgery. 

As previously mentioned, one of the most popular procedures done by a podiatrist involves treating common foot problems. 

Among these are ingrown toenails, hammertoe, and plantar fasciitis. 

Other problems that commonly receive treatment from a podiatrist include broken toenails, corns, calluses, heel spurs, bunions, and hammertoes. 

One of the most common diseases that are treated successfully by a podiatrist is diabetes. 

Specifically, diabetic foot ulcers and diabetic neuropathy both receive a lot of attention from a podiatrist.

Podiatrists must pay close attention to the foot, ankles, and other appendages. 

This is because their services can be incredibly beneficial to people suffering from conditions that affect these areas. 

Here you will be given information on what you need to do to get yourself healthy once again. If you are in pain, then you should not delay getting treatment.

A podiatrist’s professional preparation usually starts with four years of undergraduate studies

After four years in medical school, they go on to complete a three or four-year hospital-based residency. 

Worldwide, the term podiatrist implies care for lower extremities.

Podiatrists in these countries are experts in diagnosing and treating foot pathologies through nonsurgical means. 

To further specialize, these practitioners may then perform reconstruction foot and ankle surgery after further training.

In contrast, podiatrists in the United States are only permitted to practice with a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) after undergoing residency training in surgery. 

While before the United States adopted the name podiatrist, the title chiropodist was used to designate the now-called podiatrist. Although this term is now viewed as obsolete and an etymological error, it is still used today in some countries.

Common Conditions Treated by Podiatrists

Specialists in foot and ankle disorders receive training in diagnosing and treating deformities, preventing and correcting deformities, keeping people active, relieving pain, and treating infections.

A podiatrist can give you advice about what to wear and how to care for your feet.

In addition, they can treat and relieve the common problems faced by one’s feet, which we will cover here.

Fractured Bones And Sprained Ankles

The foot and ankle are commonly injured, so podiatrists regularly treat these injuries. 

Additionally, they work in sports medicine, diagnosing and treating foot problems athletes might experience and recommending ways to prevent them.

Hammertoes and Bunions

These are issues with your feet’ bones. 

The bunion is caused by a growing joint at the base of your big toe or a joint that has been pushed out of place. The toe then bends to the other toes. 

Hammertoes are those that don’t bend the right way.

Disorders Of The Nails

These include things like infections or ingrown toenails. 

Toenails with ingrown corners or sides grow inward instead of straight out.


Joint pain is the result of inflammation and swelling. 

An orthopedic doctor may suggest that you take medications or wear special shoes or inserts to help with your arthritis. 

Other treatments might not be effective for you, so you can also consider surgery.

Growing pains

Podiatrists solve problems with inward-pointing feet, flat feet, or toes that don’t line up correctly. 

A podiatrist might advise you to do exercises, wear insoles, or sit on braces. Doctors might also recommend surgery if the problem is severe enough. 

Pain In The Heels

Heel spurs, a buildup of calcium below the heel bone, are one of the causes of heel pain, and they may be a result of running, inadequate footwear, or if you’re overweight. 

Inflammation of the connective tissue running along the bottom of your foot is known as plantar fasciitis. It manifests in multiple ways, from a mild to a severe form. 

Over-the-counter pain medications, as well as shoe inserts called orthotics, are commonly used in the treatment. 

Podiatrist Visits: What to expect

The initial visit to a podiatrist is similar to that of any other doctor. They’ll ask you about your medical history, medications you are on, and any surgeries you have had.

Your doctor will evaluate how you stand, walk, and measure your shoes for proper fitting. 

You may receive orthotics, padding, or physical therapy from your podiatrist for your problems, as well as receiving treatment in the office for some conditions. 


While podiatrists and podologists are health practitioners who work with the feet, the two professions possess a wealth of differences. 

Podiatrists are medical doctors who have completed four years of medical school and four years of a surgical residency for a total of eight years, while podologists have completed formal education and obtained certification through the American Board of Foot and Ankle Specialists.

The hands-on training in podiatrists’ education is very extensive, including 3,000 hours of clinical instruction, compared to a very small amount of clinical education for podologists.

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The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.