What to Know About Using Advil for Arthritis Pain

Benefits, Side Effects, and Risks

Advil (ibuprofen) is a type of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which can be used to relieve pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.

Available over the counter (OTC) as tablets or capsules, Advil is very effective at treating symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA). However, the drug will not stop the progression of these diseases. It's also not an appropriate treatment for everyone. People with heart disease, for example, should not take Advil.

Also, the OTC version of Advil may not be strong enough to help some people with their pain. In those instances, your healthcare provider may prescribe high-dose ibuprofen.

This article explains how Advil works to reduce pain and the benefits and risks for people with arthritis.

Senior opening jar with arthritic hands

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How It Works 

The main ingredient in Advil is ibuprofen which has been proven to relieve the pain and inflammation that results from arthritis.

Advil’s ability to lessen pain is rooted in the fact that it lowers the amount prostaglandins in the body. These hormone-like chemicals cause inflammation. They’re produced by cyclooxygenase enzymes (COX-1 and COX-2). Advil works to block these enzymes, thus stopping the creation of

How to Take It

Depending on the severity of your pain and other factors, the dosage of Advil you take may be 200 milligrams (mg) or up to 400 mg. Dosages can be repeated every four to six hours, but an adult’s total intake should not exceed 1,200 mg per day. For children, discuss the proper dosage with your healthcare provider.

Because the suppression of prostaglandins increases stomach acid, you may be at risk for heartburn or other digestive issues when you take Advil. Eating before you take the pills or caplets can help you avoid these problems.

Benefits for Arthritis

There are other analgesic pain-relieving medications, available, including the popular pain medication Tylenol (acetaminophen). However, Advil has been shown to be more effective than Tylenol for relieving symptoms of arthritis such as: 

  • Stiffness
  • Pain
  • Mobility 

As an OTC treatment, Advil is an easy option for pain relief.

Side Effects

Like all medications, Advil can have side effects. These may range from mild to life-threatening. Understanding the possible side effects can help you stay aware of any adverse effects the drug could have on you and alert you to any symptoms that may require medical attention.

Common Side Effects

The most common side effects are:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas or bloating
  • Dizziness
  • Nervousness
  • Ringing in the ears

If any of these symptoms become severe or do not go away, contact your healthcare provider.

Serious Side Effects

Serious side effects can occur with any medication. Two of the most serious side effects of Advil are stomach bleeding and heart problems or stroke. If you experience any of the following side effects, stop using the medication and contact your healthcare provider immediately:

  • Feel faint
  • Vomit blood
  • Have bloody or black stools
  • Have stomach pain that does not get better
  • Chest pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Weakness in one part or side of body
  • Slurred speech
  • Leg swelling
  • Pain gets worse or lasts more than 10 days
  • Fever gets worse or lasts more than 3 days
  • Redness or swelling is present in the painful area
  • Any new symptoms appear

Risks Warnings

While Advil is considered safe for most adults, there are some situations in which it’s not appropriate. This includes people with underlying conditions such as heart disease as well as those using medications that can interact with Advil.

Cardiovascular Health

Like all NSAIDs, Advil increases your risk of heart failure. In fact, if you have heart disease or are at risk for it, taking Advil increases the likelihood that you will have a heart attack. 

If you have a heart attack, you should not be treated with Advil or another NSAID, doing so increases the risk of death in the first year following the heart attack.

If you take low-dose aspirin to help prevent a heart attack avoid ibuprofen since it may interfere with the aspirin.

In addition to a heart attack, taking Advil can cause serious blood clots and, possibly, a stroke. The longer you take Advil and the higher the dosage you use, the greater the chance of developing these problems. Ultimately, the effects of Advil can be fatal if it's not taken correctly, so discuss proper use with your healthcare provider.


Studies have found that taking NSAIDs early in pregnancy can result in birth defects. Then, starting around week 20, NSAIDs could interfere with kidney, heart, and lung development. If you're pregnant, your healthcare provider will likely recommend using another type of pain reliever to treat arthritis.

Other NSAIDs

Advil should not be taken with other NSAIDs such as aspirin, diclofenac, naproxen, and ibuprofen. Since Advil is in the same class as these other drugs, you run the risk of increasing their side effects.

If you are taking low-dose aspirin for its cardio-protective benefits, there is some evidence that taking aspirin with Advil or other ibuprofen products can reduce the cardio-protective benefits and increase gastrointestinal risks. Please consult your practitioner to determine if the use of aspirin and Advil is right for you. Your healthcare provider may put you on a specific dosage and timing of these drugs.


Some preliminary research of people with knee arthritis shows that Advil may make arthritis worse. While studies consistently show that Advil can reduce inflammation, it doesn’t stop synovitis, which is the progressive swelling of the connective tissue inside the knee joint.

The issues with synovitis may be due to the fact that you become more active once Advil has lessened your arthritis pain. More intense activity could contribute to synovitis becoming more serious.

Long-Term Use

Using Advil and other NSAIDs long-term and at heavy dosages can lead to a number of health issues including:

  • Impaired kidney function: This results from a reduction in blood flow to the kidneys.
  • Chronic kidney disease: Known as chronic interstitial nephritis, this is when the tissue of the kidney becomes inflamed.
  • Gastrointestinal disorders: These conditions may include stomach pain, heartburn, nausea, diarrhea, and stomach ulcers.


Advil can improve your quality of life by reducing arthritis pain and enabling you to move more freely. However, it is not the right pain medication for people at risk for heart problems, those who are pregnant, and those taking certain types of medications.

Side effects tend to be mild, but there's also the possibility of serious complications if you take high dosages of for an extended period of time.

A Word From Verywell

Advil is very effective, but sometimes it's not enough to ease arthritis pain.

For severe pain and impaired mobility, you can talk to your healthcare provider about combining Advil with other medication. Taking Advil along with the prescription muscle relaxant Lorzone (chlorzoxazone), for example, has been shown to more effectively relieve musculoskeletal back pain like that associated with osteoarthritis.

Following a healthy diet is also important for decreasing the severity of arthritis. Anti-inflammatory foods such as cinnamon and honey, for instance may help you as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the difference between regular Advil and Advil Easy Open Arthritis Cap?

    The medicine is the same for Advil and Easy Open Arthritis Cap. The only difference is the packaging. Regular Advil comes in childproof packaging that can be difficult to open for people with arthritis in their fingers, hand, or wrist. The Advil Easy Open Arthritis Cap provides a comfortable grip that is easier to open. 

    Advil Easy Open Arthritis Cap is not childproof and should be stored away from children.

  • Is Advil Arthritis available in the U.S.?

    No, Advil Arthritis is not available in the United States, but it is still sold in Canada. Advil Arthritis contains 400mg of ibuprofen, compared with 200mg in regular Advil.

  • How much Advil can you take?

    Each Advil tablet or gelcap contains 200mg of ibuprofen. The proper dose is one capsule or tablet every four to six hours. If your pain does not respond to one pill, you can take two. However, you should not exceed 1,200mg of ibuprofen in a 24 hour period without consulting with your doctor. 

10 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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