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Ann Pharmacother. 2007 Nov;41(11):1782-91. Epub 2007 Sep 18.

Efficacy of low-dose ibuprofen in acute migraine treatment: systematic review and meta-analysis.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.



Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen have been shown to be effective in treating migraine.


To evaluate the efficacy of low-dose ibuprofen for treatment of acute migraine attack.


Clinical trials were identified through electronic searches (MEDLINE, EMBASE, EBM review, and the Cochrane Library) up to November 2006 and historical searches of relevant articles. Studies were included if they (1) were double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials that evaluated ibuprofen tablets in moderate or severe migraine attacks in patients greater than 16 years of age, (2) evaluated at least one migraine attack, and (3) reported headache relief, pain-free, sustained pain-free, or relief of other migraine-associated symptoms at 2 hours. The MeSH search terms used were migraine disorders, headache, vascular headache, ibuprofen, adult, and clinical trial. This was followed by a key word search using migraine, cephalalgia, and cephalgia as key words. The reference lists of relevant articles were also scanned to identify possible published trials. There was no language restriction. Two authors extracted data independently. Disagreements were resolved through discussion.


Ibuprofen 200 and 400 mg were more effective than placebo in reducing pain intensity and eliminating pain (pain-free) within 2 hours in adults with moderate or severe migraine attacks. For the 200 mg dose, the number needed to treat was 8 (95% CI 5 to 20) for headache relief and 13 (95% CI 8 to 50) for pain-free. The risk ratios for headache relief and pain-free were 1.89 (95% CI 1.45 to 2.46; p < 0.0001) and 2.15 (95% CI 1.24 to 3.73; p = 0.0063), respectively, for ibuprofen 400 mg. The 24-hour sustained pain-free outcome with ibuprofen was no better than with placebo. Ibuprofen 400 mg increased the chance of relief in photophobia and phonophobia by 30% (95% CI 8 to 57; p < 0.01) and 49% (95% CI 23 to 81; p < 0.0001), respectively.


The available evidence suggests that ibuprofen 200 and 400 mg are effective in reducing headache intensity and rendering patients pain-free at 2 hours. Photophobia and phonophobia improved with 400 mg dosing. Due to the limited data and the shortcomings of the available evidence, further studies are needed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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