When players sustain a sports concussion, it can be challenging to know where they should go for treatment. Concussions can be hard to manage because the blow to the head damages the brain’s neurons and usually not the structure of the brain itself. Imaging tests often turn up normal, further frustrating injured players who know that their lengthy list of symptoms is anything but normal.
Can Doctors Treat a Sports Concussion with Prescription Medication or Supplements?
No medication currently exists for the specific purpose of treating a concussion. However, injured players who live with persistent symptoms like balance instability, sensitivity to light and sound, migraine headaches, and difficulty concentrating may benefit from certain medications and supplements meant to treat other conditions.
UK residents dealing with persistent post-concussion syndrome from playing sports should seek treatment from a range of specialists. For example, they should work with a physical therapist and an occupational therapist in addition to medical doctors. Physical therapists help them regain their balance and strength, while occupational therapists suggest modifications to the home, work, or school environment, such as replacing bright lighting wherever possible.
Seeking assistance from doctors who specialise in brain injuries and disorders is a good idea for anyone who has suffered a sports concussion. Neurologists and psychiatrists are two common examples. All members of a patient’s medical team should work together, especially when it comes to prescribing and monitoring the effects of medications or supplements.
Classifications of Drugs to Help Manage Concussion Symptoms
Patients and their team of medical specialists can consider various classifications of drugs to treat ongoing concussion symptoms. The first place most people start is with over-the-counter pharmaceuticals that do not require a prescription.
Post-Traumatic Headaches May Respond to Non-Prescription Pharmaceuticals
Most doctors recommend that concussed patients who struggle with headaches or migraines attempt to treat the pain with over-the-counter pain relievers that contain acetaminophen. However, they typically reserve this recommendation until after they can be sure that the patient does not have bleeding in the brain.
Tylenol is generally safe within four hours of a diagnosed concussion, but injured players should avoid any non-prescription pain reliever that thins the blood. Advil, Aleve, naproxen, aspirin, and ibuprofen all meet this description. Some are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), which doctors advise all patients to avoid taking regularly due to their connection to several serious and chronic health conditions.
The most typical reasons that doctors prescribe drugs after a sports concussion are insomnia, depression, pain, and anxiety. Players who have suffered a concussion will need to decide with their doctors if the side effects of any prescription drug outweigh its benefits. Sports medicine doctors who treat patients with post-concussion syndrome recommend that they only consider prescription drugs in combination with other therapies and lifestyle interventions.
Post-traumatic headaches that do not respond to over-the-counter medication may react more favourably to a tricyclic anti-depressant. Concussed patients who struggle with cognitive impairment and mood regulation might consider a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), gabapentin, or valproic acid.
Difficulty concentrating is a common concussion symptom that may improve when the injured player takes methylphenidate, a medication normally used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Chronic dizziness or postural instability could respond favourably to meclizine.
Certain vitamin supplements can provide benefits to an injured brain, such as magnesium oxide for migraine headaches. Vitamin B2 can also help with migraines, and melatonin can potentially provide a cure for insomnia. Patients should always talk to their doctor about introducing a new supplement into their daily routine to ensure it will not interact negatively with other drugs they take.