Pain, Pain Medication, Sports and Everyday Living

We woke up this morning and this flashed across my screen, “Former players sue NFL, claim league illegally gave painkillers to mask injuries, which led to addiction .”   The full article can be found HERE.  Ex-NFL players are suing the league for providing them with illegally obtained prescription medication (painkillers, sleep medication,muscle relaxers, anti inflammatory drugs and other addictive and potentially harmful drugs) to keep the players on the field.   

NFL and Pain Meds

NFL and Pain Meds

This shouldn’t come as a shock.  When there is large amounts of money around, careless greed will run rampant and even at the expense of an athlete’s long term health.  The actions of team officials and medical personnel that condoned this behavior is disgusting; however, I’m not letting the players off the hook that easy and here is what I mean.

Society’s Problem

The problem of pain medication in the NFL is a microcosm of our society.  The real problem is pain medication abuse in our society at large due to our cultural values (Video Blog on Pain Med Epidemic).  Please read our previous blog and watch our You Tube video for more information on the scope of the problem (Pain Med Video). Some startling statistics highlighted in a 2011 CDC report make the scope of the problem apparent:

1). In 2010 alone, there was enough pain medication prescribed to supply every adult American with a 30 day supply

2). There has been a 3 fold increase in prescriptions for pain medication over the past decade

3). 40 American die daily from complications associated with prescription pain medication

4). 80% of the prescription pain medication is taken by Americans yet we constitute about 5% of the world’s population

So, we see iron workers, carpenters, plumbers, teachers, police officers, firefighters, secretaries, etc. going to work each day that have taken pain medication to do their job and attempt to function normally.  The concept is similar to that of an NFL player that took the medication to do their job and attempt to function normally.  There are too many “functional” junkies walking around out there.

The real problem here is a cultural one.  We are a “Burger King” society.  We want it our way and right way.  Pain medication does a remarkable job at masking pain rather quickly; however, ask yourself a simple question “why would we want to mask pain.”  In many cases, pain has an actual purpose in that it tells us that something is wrong.   Yes there are exceptions to every rule, but generally speaking why would we want to turn off that message?  Long term harm could occur as a result of the thought process that shutting down pain to function normally is actually a good thing.  Case in point is the NFL situation where long term harm occurred to many athletes due to pain and prescription medication abuse.  Many athletes had to deal with addiction, psychological issues, withdrawal and even internal organ damage that ruined their life.

Dr. Drew Pinsky's Book On The Dangers of Pain Medication

Dr. Drew Pinsky’s Book On The Dangers of Pain Medication

So what should you do?

1. Become an educated health care consumer. Ask for the benefits, risks and alternatives to any medical treatment that your doctor, chiropractor or health care practitioner provides.  Select health care providers that fit your treatment philosophies and ideologies.  Don’t allow yourself to be bullied by an “educated” source.

2. Start with the least invasive treatment methods first and when indicated.  You can later progress if needed to more aggressive treatment options.

3.  Change your mindset:  Recognize that you must take an active role in your own health and health care and that means eating clean, exercising, stress reduction methods, and more all on a routine basis.  No doctor, chiropractor or health care professional is as good at managing your health or as interested in your health as you could and should be.  This mindset is much different than that of the traditional health care model where a patient receives a pill or a procedure to obtain health.

4.  Be Different: Our faulty cultural values are at play here “Your Way, Right Away.” Recognize that health is a journey.  It is not a sprint, rather it is a marathon.  Quick solutions like pain medication may not be the best long term strategies for Americans. Make gradual changes with daily practice to create habits for the long haul.

Where To Go For More Info On Pain

Please take a couple moments and watch this video on pain for a better understanding of how to deal with pain (How To Deal With Pain Video). Are you interested on the topic?   Then please consider purchasing two great books on the topic of pain:

1.Explain Pain:

2. Painful Yarns:

Feel free to give our office, The Center for Integrated Medicine, a call at 708-532-2346 should you have further questions or should you wish to treat your pain with natural and conservative methods such as chiropractic, physical therapy, acupuncture, advice, nutrition or more.  “Why Put Off Feeling Good?”

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