Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

Effect of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs on fracture healing in children: A systematic review



Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are among the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States. Although they are safe and effective means of analgesia for children with broken bones, there is considerable variation in their clinical use due to persistent concerns about their potentially adverse effect on fracture healing.


To assess whether NSAID exposure is a risk factor for fracture nonunion in children.


We systematically reviewed the literature reporting the effect of NSAIDs on bone healing. We included all clinical studies that reported on adverse bone healing complications in children with respect to NSAID exposure. The outcomes of interest were delayed union or nonunion. Study quality was assessed using the Newcastle-Ottawa scale for non-randomized studies. A final table was constructed summarizing the available evidence.


A total of 120 articles were identified and screened, of which 6 articles were included for final review. Nonunion in children is extremely rare; among the studies included, there were 2011 nonunions among 238822 fractures (0.84%). None of the included studies documented an increased risk of nonunion or delayed bone healing in those children who are treated with NSAIDs in the immediate post-injury or peri-operative time period. Additionally, children are likely to take these medications for only a few days after injury or surgery, further decreasing their risk of adverse side-effects.


This systematic review suggests that NSAIDS can be safely prescribed to pediatric orthopaedic patients absent other contraindications without concern for increased risk of fracture non-union or delayed bone healing. Additional prospective studies are needed focusing on higher risk fractures and elective orthopaedic procedures such as osteotomies and spinal fusion.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View