Football Sport

Young footballers’ irrational use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Doctor’s Corner with DR JOSEPH KABUNGO
YOUNG football players have to be taught about many practices which will enhance their health and general physical well-being.
One important area is the use of pain killers in the treatment of sports injuries.
One drug which has been used and also abused is diclofenac. Diclofenac belongs to a class of drugs known as Non-steroidal Anti inflammatory Drugs or simply abbreviated as NSAIDS.
It is very important that we all reflect on the use of this drug because of the many potential side effects which are associated with it.
Many people will agree with me that they have bought this drug over the counter without a prescription.
The NSAIDS include drugs like Diclofenac, Brufen, Indomethacin (INDOCID), Piroxicam, Aspirin and many other pain killers which are sold over the counter and used extensively in sport.
The sad part is that these drugs (NSAIDS) are grossly abused by our sportsmen.
It is important for team physicians to help bring the irrational use of these drugs to an end.
I decided to pick on Diclofenac because it is a common pain killer that is found in so many pharmacies and drug stores.
One lesson is that many physicians fall into the trap of over prescribing the NSAIDS as a result of pressure from the coaching staff and players.
Some players have a psychological problem with the use of Diclofenac claiming that they feel better to take Diclofenac especially after training or before a competitive match even when they do not have a problem that justifies the use of this drug.
Some of the common uses of Diclofenac include acute bouts of Gout, migraine headache, post operative wounds, Arthritis, Musculoskeletal pain from various causes, dysmenorrheal and the drug is popular in the treatment of various sports injuries.
Despite this drug having many beneficial effects for legitimate medical conditions it can also be very harmful when abused.
Diclofenac should not be used in patients with known reactions to aspirin.
This drug should be used with great care in individuals with bleeding tendencies.
The use of Diclofenac in patients with known history of asthma has to be given after carefully following the individual’s previous response to aspirin and other NSAIDS.
Aspirin can trigger an asthmatic attack in susceptible individuals.
In patients with diabetes mellitus the use of Diclofenac has to be controlled because of the tendency of the drug either causing increased or reduced blood sugar levels (Hyperglycaemia and hypoglycaemia).
Some of the common side effects of Diclofenac include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pains and at times diarrhoea can be present.
It is therefore important to take Diclofenac preferably with food. Diclofenac can also result in rash eruption and individuals who are sensitive to this drug should be disqualified from future use of this drug.
Diclofenac has got so many side effects involving a lot of the body systems and this is the reason why the strict control of this drug is needed.
If our sportsmen and women have to lead healthy lives they should make sure that they only take drugs which are prescribed to them by qualified medical practitioners.
It is important to protect the health of the players by discouraging self-prescription of pain relieving drugs like Diclofenac. Unfortunately self prescription is a big problem in our country.
It will be important for the various medical personnel who are taking care of the sportsmen and women to help put in check this abuse of drugs.
Sportsmen need to be educated on the dangers of abusing this drug and the impact it will have on their health.
It is for this reason that Zambia needs stronger legislation regarding the sell of certain drugs over the counter.
It is therefore important that the use of Diclofenac and NSAIDS is correctly prescribed and used in footballers and other sportsmen to avoid the ever increasing abuse of these drugs.
It is also a timely warning to members of the public who are in the habit of getting some of these drugs over the counter without a prescription to actually reflect and think of the negative consequence that the use of these drugs can have on their health.
For questions and comments write to: Dr Kabungo Joseph Email: or

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