What is ibuprofen and how is it used?
Ibuprofen is one of a group of drugs called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It's widely used for its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects.
It’s available over the counter as tablets or capsules in doses of 200–400 mg and can be taken up to three times a day after food. Some tablets are designed to release the drug slowly over a period of time, and some people find these helpful for night-time pain relief.
Higher doses of ibuprofen are available on prescription and can be used if you have rheumatoid arthritis or another type of inflammatory arthritis.
Ibuprofen is also available in lipid-based soft capsules. These can be bought from pharmacies and are as effective as prescribed ibuprofen in relieving flaring joint pain.
If ibuprofen doesn't give enough relief from pain, or if you need pain relief over a long period of time, then you should speak to your doctor, who may be able to prescribe a stronger type of NSAID or a combination of drugs that will be more effective.
Ibuprofen can usually be used in combination with paracetamol or a compound analgesic.
Side-effects and risks
As with other NSAIDS, ibuprofen can cause stomach-related side-effects, so you should speak to your doctor if you tend to have problems such as heartburn or indigestion. Your doctor may suggest a different type of NSAID and/or prescribe a drug called a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) to help protect your stomach.
Long-term use of NSAIDs, including ibuprofen, can also increase the risk of problems with your heart or circulation – especially if you have other risk factors for these conditions. Therefore you shouldn't take ibuprofen for long-term pain relief without seeing your doctor first, and you shouldn't take ibuprofen if you're also being prescribed another type of NSAID tablet.
Find out more about other NSAIDs that are available.