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Sideline Sports Doc: Is it OK to take pain medicine to keep playing?

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29 Jun Sideline Sports Doc: Is it OK to take pain medicine to keep playing?

Editor’s Note: This article by Dev Mishra, M.D. (president of Sideline Sports Doc) first appeared on blog.sidelinesportsdoc.com and SoccerAmerica. Sideline Sports Doc is advancing the Players First pillar of Player Health & Safety. US Club Soccer recently introduced an online Sideline Sports Doc course for registered staff members.

Several factors cause athletes of all levels to continue to play through pain: the warrior mentality, shame from showing weakness and letting others down, pressure from teammates and coaches, and the threat, imagined or real, of lost playing time.

For young athletes, is it OK to take pain medicine in order to allow you to continue playing?

This is a very tricky question without simple answers, but there are some general guidelines that we can look to.

Types of pain medicines
For most young athletes when we talk about “painkillers” or “pain medicine” we are referring to commonly available over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol, or anti-inflammatory painkillers such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen.

Additionally there are prescription injectable pain medications and prescription narcotics, which would need to be carefully supervised by a doctor. Those would typically be used only during the recovery phase from a serious injury or from surgery.

Generally OK: occasional use for soreness
Let’s say that your team is starting off some pretty intense preseason training. It’s very common in this scenario to have aching muscles especially during the early days of training. At the end of the training session you should do a proper cool-down, you may want to apply ice, and when you get home in the evening it’s generally OK to take some anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen to help you feel better.

Similarly, it’s common during the course of the season to have soreness or achiness in your muscles from continued play. As long as there’s been no real injury and as long as you would describe it as soreness, then that is another scenario where I would generally say it’s OK to take some pain medicine to help you feel better and continue playing.

Read the entire article on SoccerAmerica’s Youth Soccer Insider.