From the May 28, 2002 Associated Press comes a report of new research that implies many of the most popular painkillers could delay healing of a broken bone. Based on the AP story, bone experts call the investigation compelling enough that physicians should clarify the risk before patients choosing a painkiller for a broken bone, spinal surgery or other bone injury. The research reveals that the most significant sellers, Vioxx and Celebrex are among the worst drugs for preventing or slowing healing.
In the study, researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey gave 253 young rats with a splinted broken leg either Vioxx, Celebrex, indomethacin or no drug. Indomethacin-treated rodents took a week longer to recover than untreated rats; the resulting bone was as strong. Even worse, rats given Vioxx or Celebrex had not fully healed after two months, and what new bone formed sometimes was only a weakened shell.
Researcher O'Connor says "If it were my fracture, to me every day counts." Responding to this information, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons just notified all its members to the research as well as the potential problem. Additionally, the Arthritis Foundation's medical director has called for more research to see if individuals actually are at risk. In the meantime he says patients should discuss with their doctors if they should temporarily quit any anti-inflammatory painkiller until a broken bone heals.