Nabumetone for pain and inflammation (Relifex)

Nabumetone is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug - it is also referred to as an NSAID.

Take your doses after a meal or snack.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had a bad reaction to any other anti-inflammatory painkiller.

Type of medicineNon-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)
Used forRelief of pain and inflammation in arthritis
Also calledRelifex®
Available asTablets and oral liquid medicine

Anti-inflammatory painkillers like nabumetone are sometimes called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or just 'anti-inflammatories'. Nabumetone is used to treat osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis in adults. It eases pain and reduces inflammation.

Nabumetone works by blocking the effect of chemicals called cyclo-oxygenase (COX) enzymes. These enzymes help to make other chemicals in the body, called prostaglandins. Some prostaglandins are produced at sites of injury or damage, and cause pain and inflammation. By blocking the effect of COX enzymes, fewer prostaglandins are produced, which means pain and inflammation are eased.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking nabumetone it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you have asthma or any other allergic disorder.
  • If you have ever had a stomach or duodenal ulcer, or if you have an inflammatory bowel disorder such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.
  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby, or breast-feeding.
  • If you have liver or kidney problems.
  • If you have a heart condition, or a problem with your blood vessels or circulation.
  • If you have high blood pressure.
  • If you have ever had blood clotting problems.
  • If you have a connective-tissue disorder, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (an inflammatory condition also called lupus, or SLE).
  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to any other NSAID (such as aspirin, naproxen, ibuprofen, and indometacin), or to any other medicine.
  • Before you start taking nabumetone read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. The manufacturer's leaflet will give you more information about nabumetone and provide a full list of side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • The usual dose is 1 g at night (taken as one or two tablets, or 10 ml of medicine). Although this is the usual dose, your dose may be different to this depending upon your condition. Take nabumetone exactly as your doctor tells you to.
  • You should take nabumetone with a glass of milk or after eating some food, as this can help prevent unwanted side-effects such as indigestion and stomach irritation.
  • Swallow nabumetone tablets whole - do not chew or crush the tablets. If you have any difficulties swallowing the tablets, let your doctor know, as liquid medicine may be more suitable for you.
  • If you forget to take a dose, do not worry, just take the next dose when it is due. Do not take two doses together to make up for a missed dose.
  • Your doctor will try to prescribe you the lowest dose for the shortest time to reduce the risk of side-effects. If you need to take nabumetone over a period of time, your doctor may want to prescribe another medicine along with it to protect your stomach from irritation.
  • Try to keep any regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
  • If you have asthma, symptoms such as wheeze or breathlessness can be made worse by anti-inflammatories such as nabumetone. If this happens to you, you should stop taking nabumetone and see your doctor as soon as possible.
  • If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with an anti-inflammatory like nabumetone.
  • If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with nabumetone. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Common nabumetone side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who take this medicineWhat can I do if I experience this?
Feeling or being sick, indigestion, stomach discomfort, windStick to simple meals, and remember to take your doses with a meal or with a glass of milk. If the discomfort continues, speak with your doctor
DiarrhoeaDrink plenty of water
ConstipationTry to eat a well-balanced diet and drink several glasses of water each day
Ear disorders, increased blood pressure, itchy rash, swollen hands or feetSpeak with your doctor about any of these

Important: if you experience any of the following less common but more serious symptoms, stop taking nabumetone and contact your doctor for advice straightaway:

  • If you have any breathing difficulties such as wheeze or breathlessness.
  • If you have any signs of an allergic reaction such as swelling around your mouth or face, or a severe itchy skin rash.
  • If you pass blood or black stools, vomit blood, or have abdominal pains.

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

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Further reading & references

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Helen Allen
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Adrian Bonsall
Document ID:
1180 (v24)
Last Checked:
22 October 2013
Next Review:
21 October 2016
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The information on this page is written and peer reviewed by qualified clinicians.

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.