Relief Remains Elusive for NFL Players with Pain

Former NFL players suffering from chronic pain will not get their day in court after a decision handed down from a federal judge today.

The lawsuit alleged that the NFL illegally administered painkillers to players in an effort to mask injuries and keep them on the field. In his opinion, Judge William Alsup wrote that the matter should be handled internally by the NFL and that in a “rough-and-tumble sport as professional football, player injuries loom as a serious and inevitable evil.”

Having treated former professional athletes for pain, I followed this case closely and saw it as an opportunity to amplify the conversation about chronic pain patients in the U.S. Few endeavors are as taxing on the body and produce chronic conditions as professional football. It is a cruel irony that the players who achieve fortune and fame in America’s favorite sport wind up living a less than dignified life with chronic pain in retirement.

While this lawsuit is not likely to become a platform for discussing the chronic pain crisis or opioid abuse, our community must continue to push for policy changes that will make access to alternative treatment to opioids a reality for patients.

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