Ibuprofen a Muscle Relaxer? Here’s what you should know

July 19, 2021
4 min read

Most of us manage frequent pain, fever, and other minor health problems by taking paracetamol or Ibuprofen.

Ibuprofen is generally identified as a pain reliever that belongs to a class of drugs called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which reduce pain and inflammation. It helps relieve pain or fever such as menstrual cramps, muscle pain, migraines, sprains, back pain, dental pain, etc. It also helps reduce inflammation and swelling. Ibuprofen is obtained through prescription or (OTC) over-the-counter method. 

How Ibuprofen works

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen are recommended as an over-the-counter option for muscle spasms when muscle spasms are caused by conditions such as acute back pain, tension, and headaches.

 They work by preventing the body from producing certain substances that cause inflammation and pain. Advil, Motrin, Naproxen, Aleve, and Acetaminophen: acetaminophen (paracetaminophen, Tylenol) is thought to block the body by producing certain substances that cause pain.

Children should be exempt from painkillers depending on their age and weight.

Ibuprofen drug interaction

Interaction of Ibuprofen with other medications can entirely alter its purpose and the side effects that you will experience.

 Keep reading to find out what interacts and what does not interact well with Ibuprofen:

Ibuprofen interacts well with:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Paracetamol 
  • Codeine
  • Hydrocodone – Vicoprofen is a combination of hydrocodone and Ibuprofen
  • Oxycodone – Combunox is a consisting of oxycodone and Ibuprofen
  • Famotidine – Duexis is a combination of ibuprofen and famotidine

Ibuprofen does not interact well with Other NSAIDs such as Advil

  • Alcohol- (increased risk of ulcers and stomach bleeding)
  • Methotrexate- (increased blood levels and side effects of methotrexate)
  • Alendronate- (increased risk of gastrointestinal ulcer and bleeding)
  • Cidofovir- (risk of damage to kidneys)
  • Pemetrexed- (risk of toxicity)
  • Lithium- (increased risk of tremor, slurred speech, and vomiting)
  • Warfarin- (risk of bleeding)

Can we take Ibuprofen with a muscle relaxer?

Research has shown that muscle relaxants added to Ibuprofen and NSAIDs work better than alone. 

Results of various studies presented that patients benefitted from the use of medication which was a combination of anti-inflammatory (Ibuprofen) and muscle relaxant.

Health professionals, doctors, or your physician can help you decide which over-the-counter painkiller is best for your situation. Some advice that deciding which painkillers to take is about figuring out what works best for you. 

Ibuprofen and muscle relaxant for back pain

It is estimated that 80% experience back pain at any point in their life regardless of age. Back pain is not a result of any underlying condition. Some of the causes of back pain are prolonged sitting, extending the duration of lying, back injury, sleeping in an incorrect position, lifting something heavy, lifting things the wrong way, poor posture, old age, etc.

Muscle relaxants are usually used to treat these problems. They are a group of medications that are available on a doctor’s prescription and have the potential to reduce tension, cramps, and sore muscles to relieve pain. 

Muscle relaxants help reduce muscle spasms, involuntary muscle contractions that can cause spinal problems such as whiplash, fibromyalgia, and back pain. When your muscles move, this can make other spinal pain treatments such as physiotherapy and stretch more effective.

Some medications that relieve back pain are: 

  • Chlorzoxazone and Ibuprofen are consumed together to provide effective results for acute lower back pain.
  • Methocarbamol: used to relieve pain associated with muscle spasms such as strains, sprains and back pain, as well as tensioned neck muscles.
  • Cyclobenzaprine: used in physical therapy to relieve short-term muscle spasms associated with acute painful musculoskeletal disorders. 
  • Over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol (Tylenol) work best for neck and back pain, but muscle relaxants can benefit from taking them at night. 
  • Antispasmodic drugs such as Tizanidine are also used to treat muscle spasticity.

One hundred twenty-two patients aged 18-70 years with acute myofascial strains caused by mild trauma in the previous 48 hours, including 77 patients, completed the protocol. Patients received a single dose of 800 mg ibuprofen in ED in a vial of 6 capsules with the same dose taken up to 8 hours before the necessary discharge from ED. Patients received up to 600 mg of the drug three times a day, as needed. 

The results after one week, the intention-to-treat analysis significantly improved the questionnaire results in both groups, with an average improvement from a baseline of 10.1 points to 11.2 points in each group.


Turturro MA, Frater CR, D’Amico FJ. Cyclobenzaprine with ibuprofen versus ibuprofen alone in acute myofascial strain: a randomized, double-blind clinical trial. Ann Emerg Med. 2003 Jun;41(6):818-26. doi: 10.1067/mem.2003.188. PMID: 12764337. Accessed on 12/07/2021

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