Tylenol Arthritis Vs. Tylenol Extra Strength: What Is The Difference?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses the difference between Tylenol Arthritis and Tylenol Extra Strength.

Question

What is the difference between Tylenol 500mg and 650 mg? Which is extra strength? I know there is a 'Tylenol Arthritis', but I'm not sure what it is.

Asked by Doe On Jan 02, 2022

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By HelloPharmacist Staff

On Jan 02, 2022

Key points

  • Tylenol Arthritis (i.e. Tylenol 8-Hour) contains 650 mg acetaminophen. Tylenol Extra Strength contains 500 mg acetaminophen.
  • Tylenol Arthritis is an extended-release formulation, with a duration of action of 8 hours. Tylenol Extra Strength is an immediate-release formulation and lasts 4-6 hours per dose.
  • The maximum daily dose for most adults is 4,000mg. For Tylenol Arthritis, this equates to 6 tablets per day. For Tylenol Extra Strength, it is 8 tablets per day.

Hello and thank you for reaching out to us!

There are two main differences between Tylenol Extra Strength and Tylenol Arthritis.

  • The amount of acetaminophen (the active ingredient) contained in each
  • How long a dose lasts

I discuss these differences below.

Strength Difference

The first main difference between Tylenol Extra Strength and Tylenol Arthritis is their respective strengths:

For reference, 'regular strength' Tylenol contains 325mg acetaminophen per tablet.

Below are the 'drug facts' for each product, showing the difference in strength.

Tylenol Extra Strength Vs. Tylenol Arthritis Boxes

Now, even though Tylenol Arthritis contains more acetaminophen per dose, it is released from the tablet (or caplet) over a longer period of time than Tylenol Extra Strength, and I discuss this in the next section.

Duration Of Action & Dosing

Tylenol Arthritis is an extended-release formulation and each tablet releases acetaminophen over an 8-hour window. Tylenol Extra Strength, on the other hand, is immediate-release.

Due to the differences in their drug-release mechanism, the products are recommended to be dosed as follows:

  • Tylenol Arthritis: 1-2 tablets every 8 hours.
  • Tylenol Extra Strength: 1-2 tablets every 4-6 hours.

Tylenol Arthritis is sometimes referred to as 'Tylenol 8-Hour', as that is the approximate duration of action. Tylenol Extra Strength, being an immediate release product, generally lasts around 4 to 6 hours per dose.

Maximum Tablets Per Day

The recommended maximum daily dose of acetaminophen is 4,000 mg per day for most adults. This equates to:

  • A maximum of 8 tablets of Extra Strength Tylenol per day
  • A maximum of 6 tablets of Tylenol Arthritis per day

Final Words

Tylenol Extra Strength Vs Tylenol Arthritis Inforgraphic

Thanks again for your question!

I hope this answer helped!

The takeaway is that these are both similar products, with just some slight differences in strength and duration of action.

In regard to arthritis, it is more of a chronic condition, and has to be treated as such.

Taking a pain reliever that releases slowly over time, and therefore lasts longer, (like Tylenol Arthritis) is generally a better option than taking something intended to be used from minor aches and pains on an 'as-needed basis' (like Tylenol Extra-Strength).

The American College of Rheumatology actually recommends acetaminophen as a first-line treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee and hip, so Tylenol Arthritis, with its long duration of action, is a good choice for most individuals.

Please be sure to reach out to us if anything else comes up, or if you need a recommendation on the best over-the-counter pain reliever for you.

References

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger, PharmD

Dr. Brian has been practicing pharmacy for over 11 years and has wide-ranging experiences in many different areas of the profession. From retail, clinical and administrative responsibilities, he's your knowledgeable and go-to source for all your pharmacy and medication related questions!

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