Published in CMAJ. 2014 Dec 9;186(18):1358-63
Authors: Poonai N et al
Recent warnings from Health Canada regarding codeine for children have led to increased use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and morphine for common injuries such as fractures. Our objective was to determine whether morphine administered orally has superior efficacy to ibuprofen in fracture-related pain.
We used a parallel group, randomized, blinded superiority design. Children who presented to the emergency department with an uncomplicated extremity fracture were randomly assigned to receive either morphine (0.5 mg/kg orally) or ibuprofen (10 mg/kg) for 24 hours after discharge. Our primary outcome was the change in pain score using the Faces Pain Scale – Revised (FPS-R). Participants were asked to record pain scores immediately before and 30 minutes after receiving each dose.
We analyzed data from 66 participants in the morphine group and 68 participants in the ibuprofen group. For both morphine and ibuprofen, we found a reduction in pain scores (mean pre-post difference ± standard deviation for dose 1: morphine 1.5 ± 1.2, ibuprofen 1.3 ± 1.0, between-group difference [δ] 0.2 [95% confidence interval (CI) -0.2 to 0.6]; dose 2: morphine 1.3 ± 1.3, ibuprofen 1.3 ± 0.9, δ 0 [95% CI -0.4 to 0.4]; dose 3: morphine 1.3 ± 1.4, ibuprofen 1.4 ± 1.1, δ -0.1 [95% CI -0.7 to 0.4]; and dose 4: morphine 1.5 ± 1.4, ibuprofen 1.1 ± 1.2, δ 0.4 [95% CI -0.2 to 1.1]). We found no significant differences in the change in pain scores between morphine and ibuprofen between groups at any of the 4 time points (p = 0.6). Participants in the morphine group had significantly more adverse effects than those in the ibuprofen group (56.1% v. 30.9%, p < 0.01).
We found no significant difference in analgesic efficacy between orally administered morphine and ibuprofen. However, morphine was associated with a significantly greater number of adverse effects. Our results suggest that ibuprofen remains safe and effective for outpatient pain management in children with uncomplicated fractures.