Navigating the NFL Injury Report: Pain-Killing Injections

Pain killing injections are common in the NFL. A variety of medications are used in a variety of locations for many reasons. The three most common types of injections are anti-inflammatory (e.g. Toradol), anesthetic (e.g. Marcaine, etc.) and steroid (i.e. “cortisone” shot).

Game day Toradol injections are probably the most common pain killing injections given. Toradol is an anti-inflammtory similar to ibuprofen that can be injected to relieve pain from an existing injury or to (hopefully) limit the expected soreness after a game. It’s not a narcotic medication and is not addictive. Toradol may not completely mask the pain of an existing injury, but it’s dual pain-relief, anti-inflammatory effects are considered a “lifeline” to many players, Like other anti-inflammatories, it carries a risk of ulcers, GI bleeding and kidney damage.

Players also sometimes receive anesthetic (numbing) injections with Marcaine or another similar medication (lidocaine, bupivacaine, etc). These injections can be used as a nerve block on gameday to relieve pain for a few hours, usually around a joint (shoulder, toe, etc) or a larger area (plantar fascia, rib fracture). These injections mask most, if not all, pain by deadening the nerve fibers in the area.

Anesthetic medications are also commonly used in conjunction with steroids to treat pain and inflammation in a joint on non-game days. These injections are often very effective, but may carry a risk of long-term arthritic conditions and changes to the skin overlying the injection site and the number of injections considered safe for a single joint is limited.

Categories: Navigating Injury Report Series

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