Using Naproxen for Chronic Pain Management

Naproxen is the generic name for a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is used to treat mild to moderate pain and inflammation. It is available for over-the-counter purchase, however, stronger prescription formulations are also available for more severe pain. Naproxen is often used to treat pain for such conditions as arthritis, bursitis, ankylosing spondylitis, tendonitis, gout, or menstrual cramps. Naproxen may also be known under the following brand names:

  • Aleve
  • Anaprox
  • Naprosyn
  • Naprelan
Man holding blue pill between his fingers
AndreyCherkasov / Getty Images 

How Naproxen Works

Naproxen, like other NSAIDs, works to decrease swelling and to inhibit pain sensations. Naproxen reduces hormones that cause inflammation and chronic pain. The exact way it works is not completely understood. However, researchers believe it plays a role in inhibiting a substance called prostaglandin, which is associated with pain.

Side Effects

Like most painkillers, naproxen may cause certain side effects. These often include:

  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth or excessive thirst
  • Hearing problems or ringing ears
  • Sleep problems
  • Mouth sores
  • Hoarseness
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Pain in the upper right part of the stomach
  • Nausea
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Bruises or purple blotches under the skin
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Burning or tingling in the arms or legs
  • Cold symptoms
  • Hearing problems

Serious side effects of naproxen use include a rash or hives, visual changes, painful urination or cloudy urine, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing or swelling of the extremities and/or face. If these develop, seek immediate medical attention.

Other Warnings

Naproxen could interfere or interact with other medicines, particularly other painkillers, ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, lithium, diuretics, certain diabetes medications, and some antibiotics. Talk to your doctor about using it properly and safely.

Naproxen should not be taken by people with asthma or allergies to other NSAIDs, pregnant women, people with cardiac problems, people with a history of gastrointestinal bleeding or those with renal problems. However, talk to your doctor for specific information.


It is possible to overdose on naproxen. Potential signs of a naproxen overdose include:

  • Extreme tiredness, drowsiness or confusion
  • Stomach pain and/or nausea, with or without vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • A decrease in urination
  • Dizziness

If you take naproxen and notice any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

Keep a List of Your Medications

Before having any blood or lab tests, tell your doctor and the lab personnel that you are taking naproxen. Keep a list of all of the medicines (both prescription and nonprescription you are taking, as well as any dietary supplements, vitamins or minerals. You should keep this list with you at all times in case of an emergency.

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Article Sources
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  • Medline Plus. Naproxen.

  • National Institutes of Health. Naproxen (naproxen) Suspension.