When should I take painkillers?

Painkillers can help you keep moving. However, it's important that if you're already taking medication for something else or have other health problems, you check with a pharmacist before taking painkillers for your problem.

If you feel you still need pain relief after 4 days, speak to your pharmacist for advice.

Types of painkillers

To help your pain, you can use:

  • over-the-counter painkillers - such as paracetamol
  • anti-inflammatory medicines - such as ibuprofen

You can take both of these medicines together if required.

Anti inflammatory medicines should only be considered for use 48 hours after an injury has occurred. If they're used before this time, they may affect the healing process in some conditions.


You can only take 2 paracetamol (500mg) every 4 to 6 hours, and no more than 8 in 24 hours. You shouldn't take any more than this amount.

Always follow the instructions on the packet.

More about paracetamol


You can only take 1 ibuprofen (400mg) 3 times a day, and no more than this amount in 24 hours. 

Take them regularly with or just after food for the next 3 to 4 days only and not just when you're sore.

You shouldn't take ibuprofen if you:

  • have stomach problems - such as ulcers
  • have had a previous allergic reaction to ibuprofen
  • are pregnant

Always follow the instructions on the packet.

Ibuprofen and asthma

If you have asthma, ibuprofen may make it worse.

If you've taken it before with no problems then you can safely take it again. If you're not sure, speak to your pharmacist.

More about ibuprofen

Last updated:
25 November 2022

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