Motrin Migraine has US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) boxed warnings.¹ While Motrin Migraine is safe and effective in most people, there are known risks associated with the drug. Motrin Migraine, like other NSAIDs, may cause severe stomach bleeding.² The risk is higher among certain groups of people; specifically, those who are 60 or older, have a history of stomach ulcers or bleeding issues, take blood thinners or steroid medications, consume three or more alcoholic drinks daily, and those who are taking other types of NSAIDs. In all groups, the risk of bleeding is higher with long-term use of the drug.
Motrin should not be used for the treatment of peri-operative pain in the setting of coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery.
All NSAIDs, except aspirin, increase the risk of cardiovascular issues, including heart attack, heart failure, and stroke. In some cases, these cardiovascular complications are fatal. The risks increase with higher doses and long-term use.
Ibuprofen is the generic name for Motrin, a medication belonging to a class of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These medications are used to treat the pain and inflammation associated with various conditions, including headaches, muscle and joint aches, common cold symptoms, and menstrual cramps. They work by blocking the actions of a specific enzyme and reducing the levels of prostaglandin (a natural substance that contributes to the development of inflammation and pain) within the body.³
Motrin Migraine is only available in the form of liquid gel capsules at a single strength of 200mg. Unlike many migraine treatments, Motrin Migraine does not contain any caffeine.
While the generic drug, ibuprofen, and the branded drug, Motrin, are both used to treat many different conditions, the sub-brand Motrin Migraine is specifically marketed for people seeking relief from migraine pain.
Read the instructions on the product packaging and the included medication guide before taking Motrin Migraine. If the instructions are unclear or you have questions about what you’ve read, ask your doctor or pharmacist for help.
Motrin Migraine capsules are intended to be taken orally. Take two capsules at once with a full glass of water (at least eight ounces), preferably after eating and not on an empty stomach. Do not take more than two capsules within 24 hours unless your doctor directs you otherwise, then follow their instructions carefully. Don't lie down immediately after taking this drug. Instead, wait at least ten minutes before lying down. If you experience stomach upset when taking this medication, take it with food, milk, an antacid, or any combination.
This medication should only be used on demand when needed and not on a regular basis. Your doctor will help you determine an appropriate dosage based on the severity of your migraines and your body’s response to the drug. To reduce your risk of stomach bleeding and other side effects, use this medication at the lowest effective dose for the shortest time. Do not increase your dosage or take this drug more frequently than recommended by your doctor or the medication’s packaging.
When children use ibuprofen, the effective dose is based on their weight, and it should only be used under their doctor’s supervision.
While you don’t need a prescription for Motrin Migraine as the drug is available over-the-counter, it’s best to consult your doctor, especially if you’re struggling with chronic migraines or other health conditions, as serious adverse effects may occur.
Motrin Migraine typically works within half an hour; however, timing can vary from person to person.
Motrin Migraine isn't suitable for everyone. Speak with your doctor before taking Motrin Migraine if you have any health conditions, are taking other medications, or are pregnant. If you have questions or concerns, your doctor can help.
Motrin Migraine is generally safe and well-tolerated. However, it is contraindicated in the following groups:¹
People with known sensitivities to ibuprofen
People who have experienced any sort of allergic reaction (including skin reactions) after taking aspirin or other NSAIDs
People seeking pain relief around the time or after undergoing coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery
Additionally, the drug should be prescribed very cautiously to people with:¹
Impaired renal function
Congestive heart failure
A history of ulcer disease or gastrointestinal bleeding
Other risk factors for bleeding, including advanced age, alcohol use, or poor overall health
And in people taking certain drugs and supplements (see Drug interactions below).
Common side effects associated with Motrin Migraine are typically mild and short-lived. If you experience severe or persistent side effects, seek medical help.⁴
Common side effects include:
This medication may trigger an increase in blood pressure. Monitor your blood pressure and let your doctor know if your readings are higher than usual while taking Motrin Migraine.
Stop the medication and seek medical help immediately if you experience any severe side effects, including:
Easy bruising or bleeding
Bloody or black stool
Signs of heart problem or stroke (trouble breathing, chest pain, weakness in one side of the body, or slurred speech)
Unexplained stiffness in your neck
Mental or mood changes
Signs of kidney problems (inability to urinate, decreased urine volume, or cloudy urine)
Pain or discomfort in your chest, upper gastrointestinal tract, or throat that doesn’t go away
Rarely, this drug may cause severe liver damage, which requires immediate medical attention. Stay vigilant in monitoring for signs of liver damage, including:
Stomach or abdominal pain
Yellowing of your skin or eyes
Persistent nausea or vomiting
Loss of appetite
This is not a comprehensive list of all potential side effects. If you notice any side effects not mentioned here, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor or pharmacist for guidance.
An ibuprofen overdose can have severe consequences. If the recommended dose doesn’t provide relief, speak with your doctor about other options.
Symptoms of an overdose may include:⁵
Vomiting with or without blood
Abdominal severe pain and indigestion
Signs of kidney failure
Blue color around the lips, mouth, and nose
Breathing problems such as fast and shallow breathing
Slow or irregular heartbeat
If you suspect you or someone else may be experiencing Mortin overdose symptoms, call 911 immediately.
A fatal allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, it may cause severe allergic reactions in some people. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms of a drug allergy while taking Motrin Migraine:
Skin reddening, rashes, or blisters
Swelling in the face, tongue, or throat
Long-term use of NSAIDs, including ibuprofen, can cause serious side effects. Therefore, you shouldn't use Motrin Migraine for long-term pain relief without consulting your doctor first, and you shouldn’t take it in combination with other NSAIDs.¹
Long-term use of ibuprofen may cause:
Kidney and liver problems
Increased risk of a heart attack or stroke
Bleeding in the stomach and bowels
Ibuprofen shouldn't be taken during pregnancy unless prescribed by a doctor. The US FDA has recently advised avoiding using any NSAIDs, including Motrin, at 20 weeks or later of pregnancy, since they can result in low amniotic fluid surrounding the baby, causing complications.
Additionally, taking NSAIDs late in pregnancy can harm the cardiovascular system of the fetus as they can cause closure of the ductus arteriosus. Speak with your doctor if you take Motrin Migraine and you're pregnant or trying to conceive.⁶ ¹
The US FDA has granted ibuprofen (Motrin) a Pregnancy Category C warning, meaning reproductive studies in animals have shown evidence of developmental abnormalities and harm to the fetus. However, animal study results are not always predictive of human response. Since there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans to prove the drug is safe for pregnant women, the drug should only be used if your physician decides that the benefits outweigh any potential risk.
You can take ibuprofen while breastfeeding. It’s present in breast milk at extremely low levels, and the drug has a short half-life. When it comes to painkillers and other anti-inflammatories, ibuprofen is a preferred choice while breastfeeding.⁷
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for severe side effects. This list does not include all possible interactions between drugs. Keep a list of everything you use and discuss it with your doctor before taking Motrin, including prescription and nonprescription medicines and other nutritional supplements, herbs, and vitamins. Don’t start taking new supplements or medications without consulting your doctor.¹
Medications that may interact with Motrin Migraine include:
This medication may increase the risk of bleeding if taken alongside other drugs that may also cause bleeding. Examples include anticoagulants and blood-thinning drugs, such as warfarin, clopidogrel, and dabigatran.
Drinking alcohol while taking NSAIDs, such as Motrin Migraine, increases the risk of stomach ulcers and severe gastrointestinal bleeding.
While Motrin Migraine is an over-the-counter drug, there are topics you should address with your doctor before taking it:
Let your doctor know if you have any drug allergies, especially to NSAIDs
Bring a list of all the other medications you are taking, including any vitamins, supplements, or herbs
Discuss any other health issues, including cardiovascular, kidney, liver, or gastrointestinal disease
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, trying to conceive, or breastfeeding
Inform your doctor of any upcoming surgeries, including dental surgery
Beyond that, it’s essential to discuss all your symptoms with your doctor. Some serious health conditions have symptoms that mimic migraines, and getting an accurate, early diagnosis is crucial.
If you experience severe side effects or suspect an allergic reaction, stop taking the drug immediately and call 911.
Stop taking the medication and speak with your doctor if you experience new symptoms or if it doesn’t provide adequate relief from your migraines.
If you experience side effects that lead you to stop taking this medication, ask your doctor about other treatment options.
Overuse or long-term use of Motrin Migraine may lead to a condition called medication-overuse headaches. This condition is also known as drug-induced headaches, and typically develops in people with headache disorders who overuse medications, like Motrin Migraine, in an attempt to find relief. An unfortunate cycle of overusing headache medications can cause an increase in the frequency of these headaches that the medication was indicated to treat in the first place, leading to a loop of taking more medication to relieve the symptoms, which in turn increases the severity and frequency of these headaches, and so on. These headaches can be severe and debilitating. If your doctor suspects your headaches are linked to overuse, they will ask you to stop taking the medication entirely right away. In addition, they may recommend a replacement treatment from a different drug class to help with your symptoms.⁸
In their review of relevant literature (assessing results from nine studies involving more than 4,000 participants), one team of researchers found that ibuprofen consistently performed better than a placebo in targeting migraine pain. While a dose of 200mg was better than no treatment, a higher dose of 400mg was more effective. 400mg of ibuprofen:⁹
Eliminated migraine symptoms at two hours for 26% of participants (compared to 12% in the placebo group)
Provided noticeable relief at two hours for 57% of participants (25% in the placebo group)
Produced sustained, 24-hour relief for 45% of participants (19% in the placebo group)
A study assessing different doses of various migraine relief medicines found that the level of relief provided by ibuprofen is not dose-dependent past 400mg. While 400mg was more effective than 200mg in treating migraine pain, 600mg was no more effective than 400mg.
There are no adequate studies establishing the safety and effectiveness of Motrin in children.¹⁰
The following tips and advice can help you maximize the effectiveness of Motrin Migraine while reducing your risk of side effects:
Take this medication with food
Don't take aspirin or any other NSAIDs while taking ibuprofen
If you are allergic or sensitive to aspirin or any other pain medication, do not take this medication, as it may also produce an allergic response
Do not use ibuprofen just before or after heart bypass surgery
Motrin Migraine and Motrin contain the same medication; ibuprofen. However, while Motrin Migraine is available in just one form and strength, Motrin comes in a variety of forms and strengths. A 200mg Motrin liquid gel is the same as a 200mg Motrin Migraine liquid gel. However, Motrin Migraine is specifically marketed for the treatment of migraines, so the box and the patient leaflet are more precise in detailing the use of Motrin for the treatment of this specific condition.
It’s best to take Motrin Migraine after eating to prevent gastrointestinal issues.
Long-term NSAID use is associated with a number of severe side effects, including potentially worsening the severity or frequency of your migraine headaches. If you feel you need painkillers daily for longer than a few days, consult with your doctor to identify the cause of your pain and discuss appropriate treatment options.
Ibuprofen tablets, USP | Access Data
Ibuprofen | MedlinePlus
Ibuprofen toxicity (2022)
FDA recommends avoiding use of NSAIDs in pregnancy at 20 weeks or later because they can result in low amniotic fluid | U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Medication-overuse Headache (2022)
Here at HealthMatch, we’ve done our best to ensure that the information provided in this article is helpful, up to date, and, most importantly, accurate.
However, we can’t replace the one-to-one advice of a qualified medical practitioner or outline all of the possible risks associated with this particular drug and your circumstances.
It is therefore important for you to note that the information contained in this article does not constitute professional medical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or recommendation of treatment and is not intended to, nor should be used to, replace professional medical advice. This article may not always be up to date and is not exhaustive of all of the risks and considerations relevant to this particular drug. In no circumstances should this article be relied upon without independent consideration and confirmation by a qualified medical practitioner.
Your doctor will be able to explain all possible uses, dosages, precautions, interactions with other drugs, and other potential adverse effects, and you should always talk to them about any kind of medication you are taking, thinking about taking or wanting to stop taking.