Researchers interested in finding the origins of the term chiropodist have cited Chiron the Centaur from Greek Mythology. Centaurs were creatures that lived in the mountains of Thessaly and had the torso of a man and the lower part of their body was of a horse. Centaurs were generally mischief makers and wild but Chiron was different. He was civilized, learned and known for his wisdom and justice. Chiron was the teacher of some of the heroes in Greek myths and legends.
Chiron taught the art of medicine to Asclepius, the son of Apollo and God of healing. He spent his old age learning about herbs and teaching pupils to play the lyre. There are several versions of how Chiron died but most involve a young Hercules or Heracles who came to the cave of the Centaur Pholus. He was received with a great feast but Pholus was reluctant to open caskets of wine for fear of attracting the attention of mischievous centaurs.
Heracles insisted and when centaurs smelt the wine they arrived armed at the cave of Pholus. A fight broke out Heracles accidentally wounded Chiron with one of his arrows which had been dipped in the gall of the Hydra. Distressed at his actions Heracles applied a medicine which the Centaur gave him. But the wound was incurable and Chiron, now in dyer pain wanted to die. This was impossible because he was an immortal. So the centaur lived out his life as a recluse helping to care for the lame. Eventually Heracles presented Chiron to Zeus, and the centaur healer consented to die in the place of Prometheus .
When he died, he was put among the stars which are known today as the constellation Sagittarius.
Today chiropodist and podiatrist (foot treater) are interchangeable terms to describe a primary healthcare practitioner for the care of feet and related lower limb. The profession routinely perform assessments, give advice and treatment for skin and nail conditions of the feet, provide footwear advice and modification, treat feet at risk and perform surgical treatment of ingrown toenails. Podiatrists apply physical and soft-tissue therapies to the feet and related lower limb, as well as prescribe shoe inserts such as heel lifts, and a variety of orthoses.
Podiatrists may complete postgraduate training to become a podiatric surgeon, which enables them to perform reconstructive surgery of the feet and ankle. Podiatrists can also hold a scheduled medicine endorsement and are able to prescribe or supply scheduled medicines to the extent of the authority conferred under the drugs and poisons legislation in the jurisdiction in which they practice.
In Australia podiatry is a health profession registered under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS). All practitioners must be registered with the Podiatry Board of Australia to practice.
Careers in Podiatry