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Classified as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), ibuprofen is one of the most common over-the-counter pain medications used in the U.S. It was developed in the UK as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, but has since become a general pain medication used to treat many different pain-related conditions, including back pain.

Conditions Treated by Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen can treat the symptoms of many common conditions and diseases. These include:

  • Chronic back pain
  • Fever
  • Muscular inflammation
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis

Because ibuprofen treats inflammation rather than the source of the pain, it is commonly paired with another form of treatment for serious illnesses. However, ibuprofen is a common medication for minor and temporary pain

Ibuprofen Side Effects

Side effects are rare, but some may experience the following symptoms as a result of taking ibuprofen:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash
  • Nosebleeds
  • Hypertension and high blood pressure

Additionally, ibuprofen can increase the risk of erectile dysfunction, heart attacks and miscarriages if taken for prolonged periods at high doses.


Ibuprofen doses vary depending on the condition and level of pain being treated. Over-the-counter ibuprofen pills of taken three time per day and two at a time are sufficient for mild back pain due to tension, stress or muscle inflammation.

For more severe and chronic pain, the doctor may prescribe 800 mg pills to be taken twice per day, two pills each, for a total of 3,200 mg per day.

Talk to your doctor about setting up an ibuprofen regimen for your back pain. Those suffering from short-term injuries only need to take ibuprofen for a few days as the body heals itself.


Prescription ibuprofen pills can sometimes become abused. Overdose symptoms of ibuprofen can lead to dangerous and potentially fatal conditions, including:

  • Heart attacks
  • Kidney failure
  • Blue skin and nails
  • Breathing problems
  • Stomach ulcers and bleeding
  • Vomiting
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Death

If you find that you are suffering from any of these symptoms, go to the hospital immediately. Ibuprofen overdose can be counteracted with activated charcoal.

How to Decide if Ibuprofen is Right for You

While you can purchase ibuprofen over the counter, you should always speak with a doctor before beginning an ibuprofen regimen. They can recommend the next steps, and she will go over your medical history to see if there are any indications that would prevent you from safely taking ibuprofen. They can also prescribe the adequate amount of ibuprofen needed to resolve your specific back pain conditions.