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November 17, 2014 at 7:50 AMComments: 0 Faves: 1

STUDY: Ibuprofen Out-Performs Narcotics?

By Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, MD More Blogs by This Author

Sometimes, I come across study results that initially surprise me, but once I think about it, the results make total sense.

A recently published study randomly took kids (aged 5 to 17) who presented to the ER with a fracture in their extremity (broken bone in the arm or leg). Upon discharge from the ER, the kids were randomly sent home with either ibuprofen or morphine. Neither the kids nor the parents know which medication the kids were taking.  After taking the medication, the patients were then asked to rate their pain, and other symptoms.

What do you think the results showed? 

  • About 1/3 of the kids did not take any of the medication at all. 
  • For the kids that did take the medication, there was no difference in the pain scores between the two groups.  Morphine and ibuprofen both improved pain about the same amount.
  • The kids that took the morphine had significantly more side-effects such as drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting.

This is a great example of how a well-done study can challenge our basic assumptions.

While most of us would think that a narcotic would have better pain control, this apparently, is not true in children. In 2007 and 2009, there were similar studies performed with codeine vs ibuprofen that showed similar results. 

Stay Healthy,
Dr. Jeff M.D.

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