STUDY OBJECTIVE: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used extensively for the management of acute pain, with ibuprofen being one of the most frequently used oral analgesics in the emergency department (ED). We compare the analgesic efficacy of oral ibuprofen at 3 different doses for adult ED patients with acute pain.
METHODS: This was a randomized, double-blind trial comparing analgesic efficacy of 3 doses of oral ibuprofen (400, 600, and 800 mg) in adult ED patients with acute painful conditions. Primary outcome included difference in pain scores between the 3 groups at 60 minutes.
RESULTS: We enrolled 225 subjects (75 per group). The difference in mean pain scores at 60 minutes between the 400- and 600-mg groups was -0.14 (95% confidence interval [CI] -0.67 to 0.39); between the 400- and 800-mg groups, 0.14 (95% CI -0.65 to 0.37); and between the 600- and 800-mg groups, 0.00 (95% CI -0.47 to 0.47). Reductions in pain scores from baseline to 60 minutes were similar for all subjects in each of the 3 groups. No adverse events occurred in any group.
CONCLUSION: Oral ibuprofen administered at doses of 400, 600, and 800 mg has similar analgesic efficacy for short-term pain relief in adult patients presenting to the ED with acute pain.
This study is consistent with other evidence that doses of ibuprofen higher than 400 mg do not provide superior pain relief to 400 mg. There are very few instances where doses higher than 400 mg should be used or prescribed.