Timing of ibuprofen use and bone mineral density adaptations to exercise training

J Bone Miner Res. 2010 Jun;25(6):1415-22. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.24.


Prostaglandins (PGs) are essential signaling factors in bone mechanotransduction. In animals, inhibition of the enzyme responsible for PG synthesis (cyclooxygenase) by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) blocks the bone-formation response to loading when administered before, but not immediately after, loading. The aim of this proof-of-concept study was to determine whether the timing of NSAID use influences bone mineral density (BMD) adaptations to exercise in humans. Healthy premenopausal women (n = 73) aged 21 to 40 years completed a supervised 9-month weight-bearing exercise training program. They were randomized to take (1) ibuprofen (400 mg) before exercise, placebo after (IBUP/PLAC), (2) placebo before, ibuprofen after (PLAC/IBUP), or (3) placebo before and after (PLAC/PLAC) exercise. Relative changes in hip and lumbar spine BMD from before to after exercise training were assessed using a Hologic Delphi-W dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) instrument. Because this was the first study to evaluate whether ibuprofen use affects skeletal adaptations to exercise, only women who were compliant with exercise were included in the primary analyses (IBUP/PLAC, n = 17; PLAC/PLAC, n = 23; and PLAC/IBUP, n = 14). There was a significant effect of drug treatment, adjusted for baseline BMD, on the BMD response to exercise for regions of the hip (total, p < .001; neck, p = .026; trochanter, p = .040; shaft, p = .019) but not the spine (p = .242). The largest increases in BMD occurred in the group that took ibuprofen after exercise. Total-hip BMD changes averaged -0.2% +/- 1.3%, 0.4% +/- 1.8%, and 2.1% +/- 1.7% in the IBUP/PLAC, PLAC/PLAC, and PLAC/IBUP groups, respectively. This preliminary study suggests that taking NSAIDs after exercise enhances the adaptive response of BMD to exercise, whereas taking NSAIDs before may impair the adaptive response.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / drug effects*
  • Adult
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Body Composition / drug effects
  • Bone Density / drug effects*
  • Contraceptive Agents
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ibuprofen / administration & dosage*
  • Ibuprofen / pharmacology*
  • Patient Compliance
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Contraceptive Agents
  • Ibuprofen