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Ibuprofen for Pain Control in Children

New Value for an Old Molecule

Poddighe, Dimitri, MD*†; Brambilla, Ilaria, MD†‡; Licari, Amelia, MD†‡; Marseglia, Gian Luigi, MD†‡

doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000001505
Review Article

Background Acute pain is one of the major complaints reported in pediatric emergency departments and general wards. Recently, both the US Food and Drug Administration and European Medicine Agency emitted some warnings regarding the use of opioids, including codeine, in children.

Objective The aims of this study were summarizing the main pharmacological aspects of ibuprofen, discussing the current evidence about the use of ibuprofen in different and specific clinical settings, and providing a comparison with acetaminophen and/or codeine, according to available studies.

Study Design and Methods Studies evaluating ibuprofen for the management of acute pain in children were extracted from the PubMed and MEDLINE database within the period ranging from 1985 through 2017. After discussing safety of ibuprofen and its concomitant use with acetaminophen, the specific indications for the clinical practice were considered.

Results Ibuprofen resulted to be more effective than acetaminophen, and comparable to the combination acetaminophen-codeine, for the control of acute pain related to musculoskeletal pain. Moreover, similar results have been reported also in the management of toothache and inflammatory diseases of the oral cavity and pharynx. Ibuprofen resulted to be useful as a first approach to episodic headache. Finally, the role of ibuprofen in the management of postoperative pain and, particularly, after tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy has been reconsidered recently.

Conclusions Ibuprofen resulted to be the most studied nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug in the management of acute pain in children; in general, it showed a good safety profile and provided evidence of effectiveness, despite some differences according to the specific clinical context.

From the *Department of Medicine, Nazarbayev University School of Medicine, Astana, Kazakhstan. and

Department of Pediatrics, Università degli Studi di Pavia; and

Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo di Pavia, Pavia, Italy.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Dimitri Poddighe, MD, Nazarbayev University School of Medicine, Kerei-Zhanibek Str. 5/1, Astana 010000, Kazakhstan (e-mail:

Online date: June 15, 2018

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