PainSci summary of Wheatley 2019?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★★☆4-star ratings are for bigger/better studies and reviews published in more prestigious journals, with only quibbles. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.
This is a meta-analysis of 16 trials, showing that common over-the-counter pain-killers interfere with bone healing. Chronic overuse roughly doubles the risk that a fracture will heal slowly or not at all (“non-union,” a very serious complication).
The effect was not evident in children or in lower doses or temporary usage — this bad news applies only to adults taking too much of the stuff for too long. Unfortunately, a lot of people do that! The pain-killers in question are the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen — already notorious for several other significant side effects, and yet still widely overused.
original abstract†Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
INTRODUCTION: NSAIDs inhibit osteogenesis and may result in delayed union or nonunion. The purpose of this meta-analysis was to determine whether their use leads to delayed union or nonunion.
METHODS: We systematically reviewed the literature reporting the effect of NSAIDs on bone healing. We included studies of pediatric and adult patients NSAID exposure and healing bone. The outcomes of interest were delayed union, nonunion, or pseudarthrosis with at least six months of follow-up. A maximum likelihood random-effects model was used to conduct meta-analysis and meta-regression.
RESULTS: NSAID exposure increased delayed union or nonunion (odds ratio [OR], 2.07; confidence interval [CI], 1.19 to 3.61). No effect was noted in pediatrics (OR, 0.58; CI, 0.27 to 1.21) or low dose/short duration of exposure (OR, 1.68; CI, 0.63 to 4.46).
CONCLUSION: Analysis of the literature indicates a negative effect of NSAIDs on bone healing. In pediatric patients, NSAIDs did not have a significant effect. The effect may be dose or time dependent because low-dose/short-duration exposure did not affect union rates.
These four articles on PainScience.com cite Wheatley 2019 as a source:
- Icing for Injuries, Tendinitis, and Inflammation — Become a cryotherapy master
- Repetitive Strain Injuries Tutorial — Five surprising and important facts about repetitive strain injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, or iliotibial band syndrome
- Achilles Tendinitis Treatment Science — Evidence-based guidelines for recovering as fast as possible
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- Effectiveness of customised foot orthoses for Achilles tendinopathy: a randomised controlled trial. Munteanu 2015 Br J Sports Med.
- A Bayesian model-averaged meta-analysis of the power pose effect with informed and default priors: the case of felt power. Gronau 2017 Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology.
- The neck and headaches. Bogduk 2014 Neurol Clin.
- Agreement of self-reported items and clinically assessed nerve root involvement (or sciatica) in a primary care setting. Konstantinou 2012 Eur Spine J.
- Effect of NSAIDs on Recovery From Acute Skeletal Muscle Injury: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Morelli 2017 Am J Sports Med.