Skip to content


Ketoprofen is an NSAID, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, used to reduce pain and treat pain-related disorders. It is one of the stronger forms of NSAIDs, which also include ibuprofen and naproxen. While it was once available for over-the-counter purchase, it is now only available by prescription. It comes in both a topical gel and a pill form.

Often used to combat back pain caused by various forms of arthritis, ketoprofen prevents the body from producing inflammatory chemicals at the source of the pain.

Conditions Treated by Ketoprofen

Ketoprofen gel and pills treat a variety of back conditions, including:

  • Pain from herniated, collapsed or bulging discs
  • Sciatica
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis

Ketoprofen also treats other conditions, including but not limited to:

  • Menstrual cramps
  • Tendonitis
  • Headache
  • Common cold
  • Muscle ache
  • Toothache

Some back problems and other health problems can be treated, while others can only be managed. Keep in mind that ketoprofen only manages pain; it does not reduce the recurrence of any health conditions.

Your doctor will likely prescribe ketoprofen for the pain and another treatment to combat the source of the problem. This will enable you to get through your day without pain.

Side Effects

The side effects of ketoprofen are similar to those of other NSAIDs, but because it is a stronger drug, the side effects are also more intense. If you suffer from these or any other unwanted side effects, contact your doctor and reduce your use of the dug.

Side effects include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Drowsiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Anxiety
  • Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
  • Fever

These side effects are often heightened if you overdose on ketoprofen. Ketoprofen gel overdose symptoms include blistering, itching and rash.

Additionally, a ketoprofen treatment may increase the risk of stroke, heart attack or other acute arterial condition. If you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes, you should avoid taking ketoprofen.

Ketoprofen may also result in gastrointestinal bleeding or ulcers for those with sensitivities to NSAIDs. Smoking and drinking alcohol while using ketoprofen gel or taking ketoprofen pills may lead to increased risk of the above conditions. Tell your physician if you have a history of heart problems or gastrointestinal issues.


Ketoprofen is prescribed in both pill form and gel form. Pills should be taken 3-4 times per day, or every 6-8 hours. You may need to take pills with an antacid and a meal to prevent the risk of stomach discomfort.

Ketoprofen gel is applied to the painful area 2-4 times per day, depending on the level of pain. You should only use about a quarter-sized amount of gel to cover a square foot. Rub the gel in until it is no longer visible on the surface of the skin.

How to Decide if Ketoprofen is Right for You

If over-the-counter NSAID pain medications are not effectively treating your back pain, ask your doctor about receiving a prescription. Unlike opioids like codeine or oxycodone, it is non-habit-forming, but it is stronger than NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen. Your doctor will tell you if ketoprofen is right for you.