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Medical Experts Raise Concern Over Long-Term Effects of Painkiller on Athletes

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Medical experts are expressing concern over athletes’ use of the injectable painkiller Toradol. They say little is known about the drug’s potential long-term side effects, according to The New York Times.

Toradol is an anti-inflammatory drug, in the same class as ibuprofen. It can be injected, as well as taken orally, and can take effect rapidly. It is not a banned substance, nor is it classified as a narcotic.

The drug is most commonly used in emergency rooms, and after surgery to help patients with short-term pain and inflammation. It is not known how common Toradol use is among professional athletes, the article notes. At least two baseball team doctors have stopped using it because of concern over its widespread use.

A lawsuit filed in December by a dozen retired National Football League (NFL) players claims the league and its teams repeatedly and indiscriminately administered Toradol both before and during games, which worsened injuries such as concussions. The NFL disputed the claims, according to the newspaper.

Dr. Scott Rodeo, the Associate Team Physician of the New York Giants, said the drug’s side effects can include increased bleeding and gastrointestinal damage, as well as a risk of infection from the injection. He said the risks appear to be low when given occasionally to young, healthy players. He noted that up to 40 percent of the Giants players received a Toradol injection on game days. Cumulative doses of the drug could lead to kidney damage.

Toradol is popular among starting pitchers, since their repetitive movements can cause damage.

Many sports leagues largely allow team doctors to decide how and when to prescribe Toradol. Dr. Carla C. Keirns, a medical ethicist at Stony Brook University in New York, said she is concerned the drug might dull an athlete’s pain so much that they could be prone to reinjury, because the drug dampens the warning signs of pain.

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