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Ibuprofen Trumps Oral Morphine for Children with Fracture Pain

Update Date: Oct 27, 2014 12:26 PM EDT

For children patients who have suffered some kind of bone fracture, ibuprofen is a better option than oral morphine in treating pain, a new study concluded.

In this randomized trial, the researchers recruited 134 child patients who suffered from bone fractures that did not need to be surgically treated. The children were between the ages of five and 17. 66 of them were given oral morphine and the remaining 68 were treated with ibuprofen.

"Evidence suggests that orally administered morphine and other opioids are increasingly being prescribed," the authors, headed by Dr. Naveen Poonai, London Health Sciences Center and Western University, London, Ontario, wrote according to the press release. "However, evidence for the oral administration of morphine in acute pain management is limited. Thus, additional studies are needed to address this gap in knowledge and provide a scientific basis for outpatient analgesic choices in children."

The team compared the effectiveness of both drug options in reducing pain. They found that even though oral morphine and ibuprofen can effectively lower pain, children who used oral morphine were more likely to experience side effects, such as nausea, drowsiness and vomiting. Based on these adverse events, the team concluded that ibuprofen was the better treatment option.

"We found no significant difference in analgesic efficacy between orally administered morphine and ibuprofen. However, morphine was associated with a significantly greater number of adverse effects," the authors wrote. "Our results suggest that ibuprofen remains safe and effective for outpatient pain management I children with uncomplicated fractures."

The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).

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