Podiatry & Chiropody

 

  • FYI: No podiatrist has been permitted to register to practise in Ontario for over 20 years due to the “Ontario Podiatry Cap”.  U.S. trained podiatrists must register as chiropodists to practise in Ontario.  No other province imposes such a restriction.  Several provinces (B.C. & Alberta) only permit U.S. trained podiatrists to enter into practice.  The United States only permits podiatrists to register to practise.

 

1. What is a Podiatrist or Chiropodist?

2. What training do podiatrists undergo?

3. What foot conditions do podiatrists treat?

1. What is a Podiatrist or Chiropodist?


These terms are not interchangeable. Both are foot specialists trained to different levels. Chiropody education in Canada is obtained through a 3 year diploma level course taught at the Michener Institute in Toronto and currently requires a baccalaureate degree for admission. Podiatrists are educated in the United States at the doctorate level after earning a baccalaureate degree and passing the Medical College Admissions Test.  Podiatrists are often surgical training through a hospital based residency program, totaling 8 to 12 years of education. A Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (D.P.M.) is a highly trained specialist in care of the feet.

Podiatrists are one of six primary care professions, authorized by Ontario Law to communicate their diagnosis to patients. Podiatrists are concerned with the examination, diagnosis and prevention of foot disorders by mechanical, surgical and other means of treatment. After 1993, Doctors of Podiatric Medicine entering Ontario have been required to register as chiropodists and practice according to the Ontario Chiropody Act of 1991.

 

Podiatrists are often called upon by physicians and other health care professionals for consultation and treatment of foot problems which can be experienced by everyone from children to seniors. A referral from your family physician, however, is not required to see a Podiatrist. Examination of children’s feet is an integral part of podiatry.

Frequently, children have structural imbalances of the feet that may go unrecognized and can lead to other deformities and imbalances within the skeletal system. When detected early, these imbalances of the feet, some of which are related to the bone structure, are treated so that a sturdier foundation can be provided for the later years. At the opposite end of the scale, care is required for many foot problems commonly seen in seniors. This can include anything from routine palliative care of unmanageable toenails and callouses to diabetic ulcerations and infections. At this time in life, circulatory impairment, as well as degenerative joint and skin conditions are common findings. With proper care and attention to their feet, seniors may enjoy many years of pain-free foot function.



2.
What training do podiatrists undergo?


Most podiatrists have taken eight years of university level education before beginning to practice as a podiatrist. Most students entering a College of Podiatric Medicine today, have a Bachelor of Science or higher degree in science. In addition, they must achieve the required results in the medical school entrance exam known as Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) designed for medical doctors. The podiatry course takes four years at an accredited College of Podiatric Medicine in the United States. Students study courses in all the basic medical sciences with the emphasis, in the final two years, on disorders affecting the feet and various types of treatment. These courses are coordinated with clinical training in universities and hospitals and, upon completion, graduates obtain a degree of “Doctor of Podiatric Medicine” (D.P.M.). Comprehensive Board exams as well as provincial licensing exams must then be passed before being licensed to practice. Internship for residency, performed at both hospitals and private clinics, are chosen by many podiatrists for advanced post-graduate training in orthopedics and surgery. Some podiatrists have taken anywhere from 1 to 3 years of additional training in foot surgery. In addition, continuing education courses keep podiatrists up to date regarding new developments in podiatric medicine and foot surgery.


3.
What foot conditions do podiatrists treat?

(see FOOT CONDITIONS)


GENERAL: Corns, Callouses, Infections, Athlete’s Foot, Dermatitis, Warts, Ingrown Nails, Trauma

ORTHOPEDIC-BIOMECHANICS: Arch Pain, Tendonitis, Fallen Arches (Pronation), Rigid High Arches, Muscle Cramps, Neuroma, Foot Imbalance, Heel Pain, Foot Fractures, Bursitis, Sports Related Disorders

SURGERY: Corns, Ingrown Nails, Hammer Toes, Bunions, Bone Spurs, Cysts and Tumors, Warts, Enlarged Joints, Malaligned Metatarsals, Callouses

PODO-GERIATIC (Seniors): Muscle Weakness Mechanical Imbalance Nail Disorders Arthritis Corns Callouses Vascular Related Disorders Bone Prominences

PODIATRIC SPORTS MEDICINE Heel Spurs & Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles Tendonitis, Muscle Strains, Rigid High Arches, Flexible Low Arches, Over-Use Syndromes

DIABETIC Ulcers, Poor Circulation, Nail Problems, Skin Rash, Loss of Sensation (Neuropathy), Weight Bearing Imbalances

Many podiatrists utilize both conventional and highly specialized methods that include both conservative and surgical techniques. X-rays and other diagnostic tests may be performed by a podiatrist. Surgery on an out-patient basis may involve the use of traditional open or minimal incision surgery including endoscopic and even laser techniques. Custom orthotics may be prescribed to correct certain biomechanical imbalances and occasionally custom shoes may be prescribed. Therapeutic modalities such as ultrasound, laser, taping, padding and parrafin wax baths may be used by a podiatrist. Foot problems are often associated with abnormal conditions in other parts of the body, both systemic and skeletal such as in back disorders. Podiatrists are trained to recognize signs of diseases that manifest themselves in the feet. These include gout, psoriasis, and various types arthritis. Early diagnosis and treatment of foot problems are worthwhile investments in overall good health. Unfortunately, major foot problems can result when people attempt to diagnose and cure their own foot ailments or neglect their feet altogether. In the average life time, we walk approximately one hundred and eighty-four thousand kilometers, more than four times the earth’s circumference! As eighty percent of people will experience a foot problem at some time in their life, it is important to seek care through a licensed podiatrist. Finally, you should remember this about podiatrists; around the world, no segment of the health profession sees and treats more foot problems day by day than a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine. If symptoms develop, see your podiatrist promptly. We only have one pair of feet to last a lifetime!