Chiropodists and podiatrists are medical practitioners, certified or uncertified, those perform the diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of ankles, feet, and rest of the lower legs. They are certified to tend people with arthritis, nail surgery, diabetes, sports injuries, corns, verrucas, etc.
Technically chiropodists are not different from podiatrists, the difference in name is as a result of difference in the regional nomenclature of medical practices of Europe and American states. In the U.S they are generally known as podiatrists, whereas in Europe they are known as chiropodists. Their practice segment comprises people of all ages but with the growing complications including diabetes, etc, and wearing joints, the geriatric population forms a majority of the patient segment.
Diabetics, without the care and proper medication, end up damaging vital body organs including blood capillaries. The feet are the most amputee organ among diabetics as they not only possess a large number of capillary system, but also because of their lower position, tends to weaken the veins that draw deoxygenated blood system in the body.
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Sports injury form the second most known category for chiropodists. Footballers and other sports involving running, are common sources of foot injury. Injuries to the tendon, overuse of ligaments, etc are the complications exhibited by sportspersons. These cases require integrated treatment involving surgery, steroid treatment, orthotic support, physiotherapy and muscle conditioning.
Some sports persons are also using advanced therapy to further increase their performance or to reduce pain caused by an irregular movement of the feet. Performance enhancing treatments are highly regulated and the concerned player is subject to disqualification from the sport, depending on the governing body in the respective sport. However many doctors continue to perform such procedures as they are not considered unethical among the medical fraternity. The principle practice of Podiatry in recent times distinguishes between surgery practices and physiotherapy.
Surgeons are well trained in the field of laparoscopy, orthopedics and general surgery along with advanced experience in the feet. Nail surgery, tendon surgery, cryotherapy, partial and total nail avulsions, wound debridement, matricectomy, enucleation, and other cutaneous and electro-surgical procedures, corn, etc require specialized surgical attention in many cases and form the non diabetic factors for podiatry practices. Podiatrists usually have a medical degree known as DPM (Doctor of Podiatric Medicine).
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Their certification varies from country to country, but in generall globally, podiatrists are required to have a basic bachelors in medicine (MBBS) along with further specialization in podiatry, or any MD in surgery with affiliation towards podiatry associations. Podo-pediatrics is a rare specialization among doctors tending to children with problems of the feet. Genetic causes of flat feet, webbed feet and poor grown nails are addressed by such surgeons among children.
Chiropody & Podiatry have their largest market in the developed nations of North America and Europe, together comprising nearly 2/3rd of the world’s total demand. This was followed by Asia-pacific and rest of the world. Growth is expected in the Asia-Pacific with increased diabetic populations and awareness.
Traditional methods of medicine men currently form an equally large practitioner base in many rural parts of South Asia and Africa. Therefore, Asian markets are expected to grow larger than the North American market by the turn of the decade as the average population is comparatively higher.
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Some of the major players that provide practice specific medical solutions include:
- Aetna Felt Corporation
- Integra LifeSciences Corporation
- Algeo Limited
- IGILL Podiatry Supply & Equipment Co
- Henry Schein Inc. etc