Naproxen is a drug in the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug group. It’s quite common, especially in North America where it is an over-the-counter medication.

This NSAID comes in two different types: naproxen and naproxen sodium.  They have the same effect, but the dosages of naproxen sodium will be slightly higher.

As a group, NSAIDs are typically used to treat pain, inflammation or swelling, and fever. There are many different NSAIDs available, and while their effects are similar, they may have slightly different results when given to an individual.

To learn more about NSAID, go to the page What are NSAIDs?

Naproxen Availability

Naproxen is available over-the-counter in the United States and Canada. It is often used in pain medications for headaches, joint pain, and menstrual pain.

In Great Britain and Australia, naproxen is still a prescription drug.

Naproxen Dosage

For many conditions, the first dose of naproxen or naproxen sodium is higher than the doses used to maintain pain relief. Initial doses are usually between 250 mg and 500 mg of naproxen (275 mg to 550 mg naproxen sodium).

The maximum daily dose is between 1000 mg and 1500 mg of naproxen (or up to 1650 mg of naproxen sodium). This high dosage generally shouldn’t be taken for long periods of time, or you may start experience more of the negative side effects of the drug.

NSAIDs in general aren’t recommended for children, but naproxen is sometimes prescribed to children. The dosage is usually between 2.5 mg to 10 mg of naproxen for each kilogram of the child’s weight. NSAIDs should only ever be given to children under the direction of a doctor.

Common Uses of Naproxen

Ankylosing Spondylitis

This is a condition in which the joints between vertebrae (the bones of the spine) swell up and hurt.  There is also a possibility of the bones eventually fusing together, resulting in greater complications. Naproxen is often used to treat the pain and swelling.


Naproxen is often given to people suffering from bursitis, a condition where the joints swell and prevent the normal range of motion.  Naproxen helps with both the pain and the swelling.


Like other NSAIDs, naproxen is often used to manage the immediate symptoms of gout, especially the pain in the joints. Naproxen doesn’t cure gout, but it can treat the symptoms until lifestyle changes can get blood uric acid levels back to normal.


Naproxen is often used to relieve headaches, including migraines.


Naproxen can be used for both pain and anti-swelling after an injury such as sprains, muscle strains, bumps, and bruises.

Menstrual Pain

Also going by the term dysmenorrhea, many over-the-counter medications containing naproxen are marketed specifically at women suffering from menstrual pain.

Post-Surgical Pain

Naproxen is often used after surgery or dental work to manage the pain and soreness of the procedures.  It’s important to not take naproxen before surgery, though, as its blood-thinning properties can cause excessive bleeding.


Osteoarthritis is a joint condition where the natural padding between bones (cartilage) wears down.  The resulting pain and swelling are often treated with NSAIDs like naproxen.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Another form of arthritis, this condition also affects the joints.  In this case, it is an active swelling of the joints, which is often painful, and can also lead to the bones of the joint fusing together.  Naproxen is again used to manage the swelling and pain.


Tendonitis is a painful condition affecting the tendons, connective tissue joining muscles to bone. Naproxen helps with the chronic pain as well as any swelling that may occur.

Click here for more about Common Uses of NSAIDs.

Naproxen Side Effects

Naproxen shares many of the typical NSAIDs side effects common to this group of drugs. The most common side effects include the following. While normal, if they are unusually severe or persist after you’re no longer taking the medicine, see a doctor.

  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness/sleepiness
  • excessive gas
  • headache
  • heartburn
  • nausea and upset stomach
  • stuffy or runny nose

In certain rare cases, there may be more severe side effects.  If any of these effects occur, stop taking naproxen seek out medical attention immediately as they indicate a serious problem or an allergic reaction to the medication.

  • rash, hives, or itchy skin
  • difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, or wheezing
  • swelling of the mouth and face
  • chest pain, pain/numbness of a limb or side of the body, or fast/irregular heartbeat
  • vomiting (especially if the vomit looks like coffee grounds)
  • dark or tarry bowel movements
  • excessive bleeding or unusual bruising

The use of NSAIDs in general, especially at high doses, has been linked to increased risk of heart disease.  This includes hypertension (high blood pressure), heart attack, and stroke.  In recent study looking at a number of other experiments, naproxen was found to have the lowest chances of causing heart disease, but the risk is still there.

Click here for more information about NSAIDs side effects.

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