We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our site. Cookies are files stored in your browser and are used by most websites to help personalise your web experience.

By continuing to use our website without changing the settings, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more

What can it do?

Welcome to the beta Arthritis Virtual Assistant. At the moment it can give you general information about your condition and medication, and provide you with useful exercises to help manage your arthritis.

Why do we need your help?

The Arthritis Virtual Assistant has been built to learn and improve with every use. That way, whenever you use it, you’re indirectly helping another person get the answers that they need for their arthritis.

What can you ask?

You'll get the best response if your question relates to a single type of arthritis, and is expressed as clearly and simply as possible. For example, "What are the best exercises for osteoarthritis?" or "What are the side effects of methotrexate?"

Are you sure you want to close your conversation?

Your conversation will not be visible the next time you visit the Arthritis Virtual Assistant. If you want to keep a copy of the advice you've been given, you can print it using the button at the top of the chat window.

Arthritis Virtual Assistant

The Arthritis Virtual Assistant is being developed into a brand new type of tool which will help you to get the answers you need for your type of arthritis.

This automated chat service is designed to provide general information about your condition and ways you can manage it. It’s been developed from over 80 years of our research work and also learns from the experiences of its users. It’s a ‘beta’ version which means it’s still learning from you, and others. It uses artificial intelligence to decide which are the best responses to give you and it will improve each time it’s used. The better the information we can provide then the more people we can help to manage their condition too.

The advice in this service isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice so we’d always recommend speaking to your doctor about your treatment. When you use the Arthritis Virtual Assistant, you’ll be asked for your first name and the type of arthritis you have, there’s no need to tell us anything more personal than that.

By using the Arthritis Virtual Assistant you confirm that you understand and accept the terms of use and consent to how we will use the information you provide.

Helpline 0800 5200 520 More information

Call us for free information, help and advice on your type of arthritis.

All calls are recorded for training and quality purposes.
You are here:
> > > > How do I take NSAIDs and how long do they take to work?

How do I take NSAIDs and how long do they take to work?

NSAIDs are usually taken as tablets or capsules but some are available as:

  • liquids
  • suppositories, which you insert into the back passage
  • creams or gels, which you apply to the affected area.

You should take NSAID tablets or capsules with a glass of water, with or shortly after food and as directed by your doctor. Some NSAIDs, especially slow-release types, are only taken once a day. Others are taken 2–4 times a day. If you’re taking prescribed NSAIDs your doctor will advise you on the correct dose to take. You’ll probably be prescribed a low dose to start off with, which can then be increased if necessary.

Your doctor will prescribe the lowest effective dose of NSAIDs (including coxibs) for the shortest period of time to reduce the risk of side-effects.

Your doctor or pharmacist will be able to advise you on taking over-the-counter NSAIDs. Ibuprofen is available in doses of 200–400 mg and can be taken up to three times a day. Diclofenac tablets are no longer available over the counter. 

If your symptoms continue for more than three days without relief, you should stop taking the NSAIDs and see your doctor.

NSAID creams and gels (topical NSAIDs)

A number of NSAIDs are available as creams or gels, which you apply directly to the affected area if the pain is localised. Some (for example, ibuprofen, diclofenac) are available over the counter while others (for example, ketoprofen) are only available on prescription.

NSAID gels may be a good option if tablets tend to affect your stomach. However, some of the drug is still absorbed into the bloodstream. You should therefore be careful not to use too much gel, especially if you're also taking NSAID tablets, as this may increase the risk of side-effects.

How long do they take to work?

NSAIDs start working within a few hours. Their effects will usually last for a few hours but some types are available in a modified-release formula which means they are effective over a longer period.


0800 5200 520

Our new helpline: Call us for free information, help and advice on your type of arthritis. Open Mon–Fri 9am–8pm.

All calls are recorded for training and quality purposes

Virtual Assistant

Our new Arthritis Virtual Assistant uses artificial intelligence to answer your arthritis related questions 24/7.

Ask a question
For more information, go to
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.