Whether it's for muscle aches due to extracurricular activities or strains from ordinary housework, ibuprofen has long proven to be an effective agent against mild to moderate pains. But if the effectiveness of the painkiller starts to lose its luster, when is it to good time to consider something more?

According to WebMD, most of the dozens of over-the-counter pain-relief products either contain aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

Ibuprofen targets inflammation and muscle aches, and also helps for menstrual cramps and serves as a fever reducer. Medically, it belongs to a class of drugs call nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. Either ibuprofen or acetaminophen is used for pain relief in children or young adults because aspirin puts people under 20 years of age at risk for Reye's syndrome, a potentially fatal disease that targets the brain and liver.

Ibuprofen -- which was developed in the 1960s and approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use in 1974 -- comes in a variety of strengths and forms, including coated tablets, chewable tablets and liquid forms (in 2009, a injection-type was also approved by the FDA). It comes in several name brands, but WebMD said that generic versions of such products are chemically equivalent, and "they usually work equally well."

But when name-brand or generics don't work well, when is the right time to try a stronger painkiller?

One of the biggest indicators is time. According to MedicineNet, "individuals should not use ibuprofen for more than 10 days for the treatment of pain or more than three days for the treatment of a fever unless directed by a physician." A physician may help you determine a new course of action after that period if the pain or fever does not subside. One thing to be mindful of during these time periods is that you are taking the required doses. The site said the maximum dose of ibuprofen is 3.2 grams daily under the care of a physician, and 1.2 grams daily if you are taking it on your own.

Ibuprofen is generally a drug taken as a reaction to symptoms. And if those symptoms do not subside, then patients may be tempted to take more ibuprofen to alleviate the pain.

But taking too much ibuprofen is a big no-no, according to Drugs.com. "Use only the smallest amount of ibuprofen needed to get relief from your pain, swelling, or fever," the site recommended, as an overdose of the drug could lead to damage of your stomach and small intestines.

Sometimes people should move away from ibuprofen, even if it is effective in treating their pains. According to WebMD, ibuprofen can have similar side effects to aspirin, including nausea, stomach irritation and heartburn. The site also said that people who take blood thinners (also known as anticoagulants), should use these drugs with caution.

Drugs.com advised that ibuprofen "can increase your risk of life-threatening heart or circulation problems, including heart attack or stroke." The site said the rise "will increase the longer you use ibuprofen, and advises not to use it just before or after having heart bypass surgery."

Despite any findings of outside sources, patients are strongly recommended to discuss their use of ibuprofen and other remedies with their doctors before taking Go beyond calcium for healthy bones.