Reducing hormones to treat pain

Before kickoff on game day, in NFL locker rooms all over the country, players wait in line to drop their pants. We call it the T Train.

I play for the Baltimore Ravens… The T Train is nothing more than a bunch of really large guys waiting to pull their pants down to get shot in the butt with Toradol, a powerful painkiller that will help them make it through the game and its aftermath.

Instead of an injection, some players opt for an oral form of Toradol. The effects are the same, though, and can last through the next day. Some guys don’t feel any pain for two days. Of course, that’s the point of these drugs — they block out the pain and reduce inflammation. But they also temporarily mask injury. That’s not a good thing if you get hurt during a game — you might need to address your injuries right away. But you feel nothing, so you do nothing…

When I was playing college ball at Virginia, I tore my shoulder up in a game against UConn in 2007. I was blocking Dan Davis, a defensive tackle who had been my high school teammate in Plainfield, N.J. At some point in the game I had hit Dan and felt something shift in my shoulder — but there was no immediate pain. Why would there be? I had gotten a T-shot before kickoff. The team doctors examined my battered shoulder on the sideline. My labrum was destroyed. I played the rest of the year while being treated with a combination of pharmaceuticals and physical therapy. When the season was over, my labrum was surgically repaired and I began a steady course of opioids and anti-inflammatories…

I know that I signed up to play one of the most physically demanding sports on the planet, and I love this game. But I can’t ignore the facts. The NFL and its athletes are not immune to the opioid epidemic in our country. Indeed, retired NFL players are more likely to misuse opioids than the general population because of unavoidable and recurring chronic pain. Football players also have a high risk of developing brain diseases such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) due to repeated head trauma suffered on the field. Given all this, it’s little surprise that retired NFL players misuse prescription painkillers at a rate more than four times that of the general population. There has to be a better way. There is a better way.

On March 9, 2016, I became the first active NFL player to openly advocate for the use of cannabinoids (medical marijuana) to treat chronic pain and head injuries…

What is Toradol?

Toradol (ketorolac) is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Ketorolac works by reducing hormones that cause inflammation and pain in the body. Toradol is used short-term (5 days or less) to treat moderate to severe pain.

Cannabis is also an anti-inflammatory, but I can’t tell you how it actually does that. But I don’t think that cannabis works by “reducing hormones.”

And I’ll just add that it’s not only football players who suffer from head injuries — it’s also veterans. And I think you’d be surprised at the number of average folks who also suffer from head injuries.

2 thoughts on “Reducing hormones to treat pain

  1. Interesting. I know that when the morphine was making me nauseous after my hip surgery I asked them to change it to Torodol. And I knew it was an NSAID and that they refuse to give it to me for more than a few days. Interesting to learn why though….
    (I had a traumatic head injury when I was 7….always wondered if it contributed in any way…..)

    Liked by 1 person

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