The effect of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug administration on acute phase fracture-healing: a review

J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2012 May 2;94(9):815-23. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.J.01743.


Background: The analgesic efficacy of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is well established, and these agents often form an integral part of posttraumatic pain management. However, potentially deleterious effects of resulting prostaglandin suppression on fracture-healing have been suggested.

Methods: A systematic literature review involving searches of electronic databases and online sources was performed to identify articles exploring the influence of NSAIDs on fracture-healing.

Results: A structured search approach identified 316 papers as potentially relevant to the topic, and these were manually reviewed. The majority described small-scale studies that were retrospective or observational in nature, with limited control of potentially confounding variables, or presented little key information that was not also present in other studies.

Conclusions: Although increasing evidence from animal studies suggests that cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibition suppresses early fracture-healing, in vivo studies involving human subjects have not provided convincing evidence to substantiate this concern. We found no robust evidence to attest to a significant and appreciable patient detriment resulting from the short-term use of NSAIDs following a fracture. The balance of evidence in the available literature appears to suggest that a short-duration NSAID regimen is a safe and effective supplement to other modes of post-fracture pain control, without a significantly increased risk of sequelae related to disrupted healing.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Fracture Healing / drug effects*
  • Fractures, Bone / complications
  • Humans
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Pain / etiology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal