The National Football League (NFL) and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) recently announced an over $500,000 grant program to fund two clinical studies on pain management strategies for professional athletes in the NFL, as well as elite athletes outside of the league.
This initiative aims to provide new insight into alternative treatments that could help reduce the risk associated with opioid use. Of particular interest is researching whether cannabinoids – primarily CBD but also other active constituents of cannabis – can be used as a viable substitute for opioids when treating acute and chronic musculoskeletal pain caused by sports injuries.
In recent years, there has been growing concern over the serious risk of opioid addiction and overdose associated with their use in the medical community. This is especially true for professional athletes whose careers largely depend on managing pain from sports injuries, such as concussions and other musculoskeletal traumas.
As a result, the NFL-NFLPA committee has sought to support clinical studies designed to explore treatments that could potentially reduce or eliminate the need for opioids while still providing effective relief from pain caused by sports injuries.
Cannabinoids, or compounds found in the cannabis plant, have become increasingly popular within the medical community over the last several years due to their potential effectiveness in treating various conditions. Unlike opioids, cannabinoids do not come with the risk of addiction and are believed to offer relief from pain without producing a “high.”
Furthermore, they can be used as an alternative to opioid-based treatments for acute and chronic pain without increasing tolerance or dependence while also potentially helping reduce opioid use overall. This potential has driven the NFL and NFLPA to fund research into investigating CBD as an alternative treatment option for athletes with sports injuries.
By exploring CBD’s efficacy as a substitute for opioid-based treatments, new strategies may emerge to help reduce the risk of addiction and overdose associated with opioid use. This is why more research into CBD as a potential alternative treatment option for athletes is always positive, even if it does not lead to any definitive conclusions.
Summary of Studies Funded in Program
The NFL and NFLPA have granted a total of over $500,000 to fund two clinical studies related to alternative treatments for musculoskeletal pain. The American Society of Pain Neuroscience (ASPN) is conducting the first study in collaboration with leading clinicians and scientists worldwide to investigate cannabinoid therapy as a viable substitute for opioids when treating post-traumatic headaches. This study will also explore novel methods of delivering cannabinoids since most current strategies involve smoking or ingesting cannabis.
Researchers at Emory University are leading the second study funded under this program. Their team will use mindfulness practice therapy as a possible opioid-sparing treatment option for athletes with sports medicine injuries such as concussions, muscle sprains, and ligament tears. This study will look to determine the effectiveness of mindfulness practice therapy in reducing opioid use and improving postoperative outcomes for athletes following surgery.
These two studies are part of an ongoing effort by both the NFL and NFLPA to increase awareness about alternative treatments for pain management and reduce reliance on opioids among professional athletes. Further research into CBD as an alternative treatment option is necessary before any definitive conclusions can be made, but it’s encouraging to see the progress being made.
Continued NFL Support For Research
Last year, the National Football League (NFL) and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) granted over $500,000 to fund two research programs focused on investigating the potential of cannabidiol (CBD) as an alternative to opioids for pain management. The first study, “The Therapeutic Efficacy of Cannabinoids in Elite Athletes: A Randomized Clinical Trial,” is led by Drs: Thomas Marcotte and Mark Wallace at the University of California San Diego.
The second program, “Naturally Produced Cannabinoids for Pain Management and Neuroprotection from Concussion and Participation in Contact Sports,” is being conducted by Dr. J. Patrick Neary and researchers at the University of Regina in Canada. Both programs aim to provide evidence-based data surrounding the safety and efficacy of CBD, which could help inform future pain management strategies in professional sports.
The NFL and NFLPA’s grant program is an important step forward in finding a solution to the opioid crisis by exploring alternative treatments, such as cannabinoids, for pain management strategies among professional athletes.
By reinvesting over $500,000 into research that can potentially provide insight into how CBD and other active constituents of cannabis can be used safely and effectively to treat acute and chronic pain caused by sports injuries, there is hope that new strategies will emerge to help reduce or eliminate the need for opioids while still providing adequate relief.
However, it is essential to note that the grant program will not directly impact existing substance abuse policies within the NFL-NFLPA collective bargaining agreement. The agreement already permits players to use prescribed medical marijuana in states where it is legal.
While this research could lead to changes in policy regarding CBD or other cannabinoids, any potential changes would be subject to further discussion between both parties before being implemented.
The joint initiative undertaken by the NFL and NFLPA to fund clinical studies exploring alternative treatments such as cannabinoids for pain management strategies among professional athletes is an encouraging step towards decreasing reliance on opioids and finding new strategies to help reduce associated risks of addiction and overdose. Although there is still much work to be done, this investment into research is an essential step toward providing athletes with more options for pain management.
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