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, according to RXList:

  • Aleve
  • Anaprox
  • Anaprox DS
  • Naprosyn
  • EC Naprosyn
  • Naprox Sodium
  • Naproxen EC
  • Naproxen SR
  • Napralean
  • Menstridol
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. The RXList reports the following as the most common side effects.

The Cleveland Clinic reports some serious side effects of naproxen use can include but are not limited to bloody or black stools, severe stomach pain, inability to pass urine, blurred vision, ringing in ears, extreme headache, fluid retention, severe rash, wheezing, chest pain and rapid heartbeat, extreme back pain. If these develop, seek immediate medical attention.

Other Warnings

Naproxen could interfere or interact with other medicines, according to RXList, reporting it has moderate interactions with 229 drugs and mild interactions with at least 80. Some of the medications include but are not limited to benazepril, enalapril, ketorolac intranasal, methotrexate, pemetrexed, quinapril, ramipril, trandolapril. Talk to your healthcare provider 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 practitioner for specific information.


It is possible to overdose on naproxen. Potential signs of a naproxen overdose, according to Mount Sinai, include:

  • Agitation, confusion, incoherence (the person is not understandable)
  • Blurred vision
  • Coma
  • Seizures
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness, unsteadiness, movement problems
  • Drowsiness
  • Severe headache
  • Heartburn, stomach pain (possible bleeding in the stomach and intestines)
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Rash
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Slow, labored breathing, wheezing

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 healthcare provider 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.

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • Medline Plus. Naproxen.

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

By Erica Jacques
Erica Jacques, OT, is a board-certified occupational therapist at a level one trauma center.