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Athletes Living with Diabetes Face More Foot Injuries Than Athletes Without

Foot and ankle injuries are commonplace among all athletes, weekend warriors and high-performance athletes alike, but athletes living with diabetes are at a significantly greater risk of sustaining stress fractures, sprains and other foot and ankle injuries than nondiabetic athletes, according to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS).

According to ACFAS Fellow member John M. Giurini, DPM, FACFAS, a Boston foot and ankle surgeon, a key reason athletes living with diabetes are more susceptible to foot injuries is that many have neuropathy, the diminished sensation from nerve damage in the foot.

"Many athletes living with diabetes are simply not aware that they’ve been injured or have pain," said Giurini. "They will often continue their normal routine while injured and cause more damage."

Giurini points out that in addition to neuropathy, athletes living with diabetes have other foot problems associated with the disease. Foot problems can include poor circulation coupled with a compromised immune system that increases the risk of infection and the restricted delivery of oxygen and other nutrients to the affected area.

"This does not mean that athletes living with diabetes must stay away from sports and exercise," says Giurini. "Exercise is important and especially beneficial for them. The point is that athletes living with diabetes must take special care of their feet."

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