What Pain? Put me in Coach!

January 26, 2016

 Every team in the NFL posts an injury report, which Las Vegas uses as a tool in setting odds for the weekly games. Injuries in competitive sports are obviously unavoidable but how they are managed from a team and personal perspective is the difference between winning and losing games.   Owners fret and worry when their investments cannot perform and the fans pay big dollars to attend games to see their beloved players. The pressure to be on the court or field is tremendous along being able to play through pain. How players react to pain and how they manage is the ongoing nature of their profession.

All professional sporting franchises have a training staff which helps keep players performing along with using proactive measures to ward off certain types of injuries. The most often occurring injury is muscles pulls and strains. They are not always avoidable, but it is also the injury that players will try to work around. I am not sure how much pain-relieving medicine is used to help players perform on game day and what is the protocol for administrating such meds. I remember taking an 800mg ibuprofen before a baseball game to help with discomfort from a groin pull.  I took all of the pain away and I was ready to go. I also got this cloudy feeling in my mind and an upset stomach in the second inning of the game. If this was a professional sport, I am sure ibuprofen would not be used for a groin pull. I was lucky I didn’t do more damage and put a damper on things for a long time.

I am sure you can talk to any professional sports performer and they will tell you crazy stories of what they had to do to get on the field. When it comes to the nitty gritty, it becomes a question how much pain you can endure and where does it affect performance. The two big factors when dealing with pain is “pain tolerance” and “threshold of pain”.

The threshold of pain is the lowest levels where you feel pain and tolerance is the maximum level of pain that a person can tolerate. These factors often are muddled because pain and performance ability are so subjective. How much pain can one athlete endure and how it affects performance cannot always be measured until the athlete actually is in a real game time situation.  The medical staff needs to determine the risk of further injury and the owners want to know if their property is going to perform.

We have all heard about how some players have a high pain tolerance. It has been explained to me in the following way; Pain tolerance is way we cope with pain, some of it may be learned from prior experiences that condition the mind. This reaction is only a single individual effect and changes from person to another. In addition, it has been tested that repeated pain exposure to some subjects’ manifests into boosted responses to pain even with minor pain stimuli. In summary, pain management is very not measurable from person to person which is based on prior experiences with pain stimuli.