Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often used for pediatric pain management in the emergency setting and postoperatively. This narrative literature review evaluates pain relief, opioid requirements, and adverse effects associated with NSAID use. A PubMed search was conducted to identify randomized controlled trials evaluating the use of conventional systemic NSAIDs as pain management for children in the perioperative or emergency department (traumatic injury) setting. Trials of cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors ("coxibs") were excluded. Search results included studies of ibuprofen (n = 12), ketoprofen (n = 5), ketorolac (n = 6), and diclofenac (n = 4). NSAIDs reduced the opioid requirement in 10 of 13 studies in which this outcome was measured. NSAID use did not compromise pain relief; NSAIDs provided improved or similar pain scores compared with opioids (or other control) in 24 of 27 studies. Adverse event frequencies were reported in 26 studies; adverse event frequencies with NSAIDs were lower than with opioids (or other control) in three of 26 studies, similar in 21 of 26 studies, and more frequent in two of 26 studies. Perioperative and emergency department use of NSAIDs may reduce opioid requirements while maintaining pain control, with similar or reduced frequencies of opioid-associated adverse events.