As more and more teams become aware of the risks associated with the potent painkiller Toradol, more and more team doctors are shying away from giving it to players.
As part of a thorough look at the use of medication by NFL teams to allow players to suit up on Sundays, Sally Jenkins and Rick Maese of the Washington Post explain that some teams have decided to use it less frequently, or not at all.
Rams physician Matt Matava decided after taking a closer look at Toradol’s side effects and balancing the risks with the benefits to “essentially eliminate” it from the team’s locker room.
“We had two players come up to me at the very first game and said, ‘I’m here for my Toradol shot,’” Dr. Matava said. “I said, ‘We’re not using it anymore.’ ‘Okay, can I have something else?’ I never heard one more word about it the rest of the season.”
Other teams now avoid it “whenever possible,” including the Packers, Falcons, and Redskins.
The drug first gained wide notice in January 2012, via a segment from HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. Players like Brian Urlacher told Andrea Kremer that he hadn’t been told about potential kidney damage or gastrointestinal bleeding. Once aware of the potential risks, Urlacher said he’d still take it.
Players balked at efforts to restrict the use of Toradol in 2012, and then a grievance was filed after at least one team required players receiving it to sign a waiver of legal claims that among other things referred players to Wikipedia for more information about the drug.
For the men who play the game, it’s a delicate balance. They want to be able to perform without pain, but they also need to be fully aware of the risks.
The problem is that, because the drug wasn’t designed to help football players feel invincible on game days, the full range of risks isn’t completely known. At some point, the doctors entrusted with player care must be willing to say that it’s better to not be able to play than to artificially mask pain with a drug that can do more harm that good over the long haul.