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Q&A: Ibuprofen risky for broken bones?

Consumer Reports News: March 13, 2009 12:46 PM

I've read that people with broken bones should avoid ibuprofen (Advil and generic) until they heal. Is that true? —M.S., New Paltz, N.Y.

Yes—and the same warning applies to other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), including naproxen (Aleve and generic) and the prescription drugs celecoxib (Celebrex) and indomethacin (Indocin and generic). Those medications may thwart healing by blocking the enzymes and inflammatory responses that help broken bones rebuild themselves. Several studies support this theory. In one observational study of about 400 patients with broken legs, for example, those who routinely took NSAIDs were 10 times more likely to have healing complications, and took an average of two months longer to heal, compared with non-NSAID users. While an occasional NSAID probably won't harm a mending bone, it’s safest to avoid the drugs for at least six weeks after a break. For pain relief during that time, choose acetaminophen (Tylenol and generic) or, if that doesn’t help, a prescription narcotic.

Read more safety information on ibuprofen, and see our free Best Buy Drugs report on NSAIDs.

   

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