nfl
We have recently learned about another lawsuit brewing up in the N.F.L. Many former NFL players are filing a claim that prescription pain killers were misused during their career.  In some cases, this misuse lead to misdiagnoses, and in other cases covered up symptoms from significant injuries. What has been talked about the most are neck injuries in which players have actually played on presumed vertebral fractures because their pain were covered up by pain medications. After their playing days were over, they were to find out by outside surgeons how serious and devastating their injuries actually were, and in some instances could have lead to death or permanent paralysis.
Prescription pain medications can come in the form of pills or liquid that you can take by mouth, or injections that can be given directly through muscle or I.V. These are medications that can not be purchased over the counter, but can only be given through a doctor’s prescription. Often times, if a player is limited by their ability to compete due to pain from an injury, pain medications may have been given to allow that athlete to play.

Former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon developed a 100 pill-a-month dependency on Percocet

Former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon developed a 100 pill-a-month dependency on Percocet

As a former N.F.L. player myself and current orthopedic surgeon that prescribes these medications on a regular   basis, you have to very careful about understanding the treatment for pain from bruises that will not get worse or do long term damage, versus treating pain from significant injuries that can definitely get worse if not adequately protected. In the professional athletic arena, our society for many years accepted the fact that rules that apply to the athletes may not apply to the general population. In a normal doctor-patient relationship, any prescription pain medication is given with a clear explanation of risks, and usually along with adequate protection for the condition that is causing the pain. In the professional athletic arena, the question being asked now is whether these athletes have been given the same pain medications but without the understanding of the risks of the medications and of playing, with the top priority of simply covering the pain to allow the athletes to compete.
It took public awareness about the risks of concussions to finally lead to change in how we think about these injuries, maybe the same will be for the use of prescription pain medications. As the public becomes more aware and conscious of what it takes sometimes for these athletes to continue to play at the high level they do, our societal acceptance may also change as we look at these retired athletes that are now paying the price…
Stay tuned as this litigation proceeds, as we will bring you insights from a formal N.F.L. player turned surgeon!
Primus Sports Medicine Staff- OB