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Tylenol vs. Ibuprofen for Arthritis Pain


The following is a question answered by Dr. Anca Lamse, MD on her website Ask Dr. Lamse. Keep in mind, this is strictly informational and is not meant to replace the advice of your own health care provider.


Q. Dawn asks:

Is it better for me to take Tylenol or Ibuprofen for osteoarthritis? I’m a 50-year old, pretty darned healthy female, although my healthy half-sister had a heart attack out of the blue and died at 53. Otherwise, there’s no history of heart problems in my family. Maybe there was on her dad’s side. But still,if I’m going to be taking pain killers for the rest of my life, I don’t want heart problems as a side effect. Thanks!

A. Dear Dawn,

First let me urge you to also consult with your doctor, who knows your medical situation better than I do.

Short Answer: Tylenol is probably better than Ibuprofen.

Explanation: In general, Tylenol, up to 4,000 mg/24 hr is relatively safe to take, if you have no liver problems, take no other medications that would increase the demands on the liver, and don’t drink alcohol in excess.

Ibuprofen is part of the family of drugs called “non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).  NSAIDs can cause gastrointestinal bleeding and may affect kidney function in some people.

There is also evidence suggesting that people who were taking NSAIDs the week prior to, or the week after a heart attack, were at higher risk for death, or for another heart attack.

In the light of this evidence, in 2007 the American Heart Association (AHA) recommended that anyone at risk for heart attacks (talk to your doctor to see if you are at risk, based on history, exam, and laboratory studies) should only take NSAIDs as a last resort.


Since you plan to be on pain medications long term, it would be good to get your kidney and liver tests done regularly.

If you have any of the symptoms listed below call your doctor.


If you do take Tylenol, watch out for symptoms of liver damage, which include yellow skin, dark urine, light-colored stool, pain in the right upper part of your abdomen, nausea, vomiting, and yellowing of the whites of your eyes.

In future posts I’ll talk about additional steps you can take for both pain management and ways to encourage a happy healthy heart.

***To learn more about the Lamse Wellness Clinic and the services provided there, contact Dr. Anca Lamse, MD. Please forward any questions directly to her or to the Women’s Life Link Contact Page.

Lamse Wellness Clinic
17 E. Moore St, Mooresville, IN 46158
Phone: 317-834-9304; Fax: 317-831-0864

***The content of this post is not meant to replace the advice of your health care provider.  Women’s Life Link, it’s authors, contributors, commentators, associates, and linked sites do not claim that this information will diagnose, treat, or cure any disease or condition.  Thank you.

Photo by Dark Serge

About Kellie R. Stone

"I make no excuses for my diverse roles as a Rock Your Feminine Type Coach™ and Branding Expert, best-selling author, and crime thriller novelist. Yes, I do still chuckle a bit at the irony. I kick ass as a women’s biz coach by day and kill off vulnerable fiction characters at night. What the hell, it makes for some interesting dreams. I believe that everyone should pursue their passions no matter how out there they seem to be. One of those pure heart-fluttering passions for me has always been writing. Since I did, indeed, chase my dream of being a writer, I've published two non-fiction books in the self-development genre, co-authored an international best seller, and now I'm finally pushing my much-too-old-to-be-in-the-nest novel out the door and into the world. My whole world is empowering and I adore showing others how to live life unfiltered, whether I do that through the written word or my coaching work. I love my job!" ~Kellie R. Stone

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