Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are usually used as the first line treatment for arthritis. They help to reduce inflammation and pain by suppressing the activities of inflammatory mediators. Ibuprofen is one such NSAID widely recommended for treating mild to moderate arthritis pain.
Ibuprofen is usually available over-the-counter and sometimes with prescription. The dosage of the drug and duration of treatment depend upon the severity of the arthritis pain.
How Ibuprofen Works
Ibuprofen works by inhibiting activities of the COX enzymes that induce production of inflammatory substances called prostaglandins.
Ibuprofen Dosage for Arthritis
300 to 800 mg of ibuprofen can be taken three to four times a day by adults to reduce arthritis pain and inflammation. Higher doses of the drugs are taken only for reducing severe arthritis pain. While taking over-the-counter ibuprofen, the maximum dosage of the drug should not be more than 1.2 grams per day.
Moreover, it should be used only for a short period without prescription, not more than 10 days. However, higher doses can be taken under medical supervision. In case of severe arthritis pain, the maximum dosage of prescription ibuprofen can be 3.2 grams a day. High dosage of the NSAID is prescribed only for a limited period.
Children suffering from juvenile arthritis are treated with lower doses of ibuprofen. The appropriate maximum daily dose is determined by the body weight of the child. Children can take 20 to 40 mg/kg ibuprofen per day. The daily dose is divided into three to four smaller doses.
Side Effects of Ibuprofen
Ibuprofen is considered a safe NSAID for arthritis patients. It is usually well tolerated. Nonetheless, side effects may occur, especially by using large doses of the drug for a prolonged period. Possible side effects of ibuprofen include stomach upset, diarrhea or constipation, headache, dizziness, ringing in the ear, heartburn, abdominal pain, drowsiness and skin rash. By thinning the blood, ibuprofen increases the risk of bleeding.
The corrosive effect of the drug on the stomach and intestine increases the risk of ulceration in these organs. It may slow down blood flow to the kidneys, especially in people with congestive heart failure or poor kidney functions. Although rare, fluid retention, hypertension, heart attacks, heart failure, blood clots and allergic reactions may occur following NSAID use.
Who Should Not Use Ibuprofen?
Ibuprofen is not recommended for people with a history of allergy to aspirin. Your physician may not recommend ibuprofen if you are suffering from kidney problems, stomach or intestinal ulcer or congestive heart failure. It is also not recommended during pregnancy.
How to Avoid Side Effects of Ibuprofen
By taking ibuprofen with food, you can minimize the risk of gastrointestinal problems. Side effects can be avoided by taking small doses of the drug for a few days.
Drugs Interactions of Ibuprofen
Ibuprofen may interact with lithium drug. By inhibiting lithium excretion, it increases the lithium level in the blood. It may reduce the effectiveness of blood pressure lowering medications. When taken with anticoagulant drugs, ibuprofen may excessively thin the blood, increasing the risk of bleeding. It may raise the blood level of aminoglycoside, a type of antibiotic.