Researchers at Stanford University Medical Center have found that selective COX-2 inhibitors - a class of medications widely prescribed for painful inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis - interfere with the healing process after a bone fracture or cementless joint implant surgery.Their findings, published in the November issue of the Journal of Orthopaedic Research, suggest that patients who regularly take COX-2 inhibitors should switch to a different medication, such as acetaminophen or codeine derivatives, following a bone fracture or cementless implant. The study, conducted in rabbits, also suggests that physicians should consider changing prescribing patterns since many doctors commonly prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs including COX-2 inhibitors under the very circumstances in which the drugs should be avoided.
"Its very common. You break a bone and go to the ER. The doctor sets it in a splint and prescribes one of these anti-inflammatory drugs (including COX-2 inhibitors) for pain," said Stuart Goodman, MD, professor of orthopaedic surgery at the Stanford School of Medicine and lead author of the study. "We now know that could actually delay healing."
The enzyme Cyclooxygenase-2, or COX-2, is produced by the body in response to injury or inflammation. COX-2 inhibitors, including anti-inflammatory medications such as rofecoxib (Vioxx), celecoxib (Celebrex) and others, block production of this enzyme. Goodmans research shows that COX-2 inhibitors also impede the new bone growth that normally helps heal a fracture or stabilize a joint implant.
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