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Practical Management: Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drug (NSAID) Use in Athletic Injuries

Mehallo, Christopher J. DO*; Drezner, Jonathan A. MD; Bytomski, Jeffrey R. DO‡ §

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: March 2006 - Volume 16 - Issue 2 - p 170-174
Practical Management

Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are frequently used in the treatment of acute athletic injuries, often for analgesic purposes as the evidence to support enhanced healing is limited. However, the current evidence on NSAID use in athletic injury is slowly growing. On the basis of animal models and limited human studies, some practical management guidelines can be drawn to assist the sports physician. Specifically, NSAIDs are not recommended in the treatment of completed fractures, stress fractures at higher risk of nonunion, or in the setting of chronic muscle injury. The only exception may be very short-term use (eg, a few days) for analgesic purposes only. Judicious use of NSAIDs may be more appropriate in the management of acute ligament sprains, muscle strains, tendinitis, and eccentric muscle injury. However, length of treatment should always be kept as short as possible, with consideration of the specific type of injury, level of dysfunction, and pain.

*McShane Sports Medicine, 1098 West Baltimore Pike, Suite 3308, Media, PA 19063

Department of Family Medicine, Hall Health Center Sports Medicine, University of Washington, Box 354775, Seattle, WA 98105

Department of Community and Family Medicine

§Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship, Duke University Medical Center, Box 3672, Durham, NC 27710

Reprints: Christopher J. Mehallo, DO, McShane Sports Medicine, 1098 W. Baltimore Pike, Suite 3308, Media, PA 19063 (e-mail:

Received for publication January 3, 2006; accepted January 3, 2006

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.