While the drug’s potency and possible side effects worry some physicians, it’s the misuse of Toradol that’s particularly worrisome to doctors such as Victor Ibrahim, a team physician for D.C. United, who is also director of the Performance and Musculoskeletal Regeneration Center in Washington.
In The Post’s survey of ex-players, nearly eight in 10 of past Toradol users said they took the drug as a masking agent, intended to dull the pain they expected to feel during games. “When you mask pain and give a patient a false sense of a cure, you potentially expose them to further harm,” Ibrahim said.
Joe Horn, a wide receiver who played in the NFL from 1996 to 2007, said toward the end of his career he used Toradol most every Sunday, sometimes “just in case I got injured. In case something happened, I could still make it through the game.”
Team physicians, he said, never discussed with him possible side effects, which serves as a central complaint in a lawsuit that Horn and 10 other former players have filed against the NFL. The plaintiffs say that because of its blood-thinning properties, Toradol use could have aggravated the effects of concussions suffered during their playing careers.
Several physicians, though, said further studies and research are needed to understand the extent of any such dangers.
“I think that’s a theoretical risk,” said neurologist Michael Yochelson, the medical director for MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital, “particularly if you’re taking it beyond the recommended frequency that it might put you at a slightly increased risk for a bleed if you were to have a significant head impact.”
The league has become increasingly sensitive to issues surrounding the drug, to the point that last season some NFL physicians attempted to get players to sign Toradol releases protecting them from liability “for any injury, damage or death sustained” from using it. The NFL Players Association filed a grievance against the league and NFL management council in December, demanding the waivers be nullified.
“I don’t know where these waivers came from, but they’re unethical,” said Thom Mayer, the union’s medical director. “I know they go against the prime concept that we’re going to do the right thing for the patient, not the right thing for the people who take care of the patient.”
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said that to the league’s knowledge only one team physician distributed waivers, and the union has not requested a date for a hearing.