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Naproxen Patient Tips

How it works

Naproxen helps relieve pain and inflammation by blocking the effects of the enzymes cyclo-oxygenase (COX)-1 and COX-2.


  • Effective for the relief of pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, gout, menstruation, and tendonitis.
  • NSAIDs (including naproxen) are considered first-line options for mild-to-moderate acute pain because at correct dosages they are effective, do not cause dependence and are readily available at a low cost.


If you are between the ages of 18 and 60, take no other medication or have no other medical conditions, side effects you are more likely to experience include:

  • Stomach-related adverse effects such as bleeding, ulceration, or perforation. Older patients or those taking other medicines that affect the stomach may be more at risk.
  • An increased risk of stroke or heart attack (similar to other NSAIDs). Risk may be higher in patients with pre-existing conditions and at higher dosages.
  • Combining with alcohol may increase the risk of stomach ulcer or bleeding.

Notes: In general, seniors or children, people with certain medical conditions (such as liver or kidney problems, heart disease, diabetes, seizures) or people who take other medications are more at risk of developing a wider range of side effects. For a complete list of all side effects, click here.

Bottom Line

Naproxen is effective for the short-term relief of pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, gout, menstruation, and tendonitis; however, use is limited by adverse effects involving the stomach, its heart risk, and its propensity to increase bleeding risk.


  • Take with food to reduce stomach-related adverse effects.
  • Slow-release, extended-release, or enteric-coated tablets should be swallowed whole, not crushed or chewed.
  • Use the lowest effective dose for the shortest duration of time.
  • Dosage of naproxen may vary depending on the brand. Do not assume one brand is the same dose as another. Also time for effect can vary among brands.
  • Twice daily dosing is recommended; more frequent dosing does not necessarily improve response.
  • Morning and evening dosages do not have to be equal in size.
  • Response to different NSAIDs can vary so switching types (such as from naproxen to diclofenac) may improve response.
  • NSAIDs should not be used in the last 3 months of pregnancy; always ask your doctor before using any medication during pregnancy.
  • Avoid if asthma or hives due to aspirin use or other NSAIDs, like ibuprofen.
  • Do not use this medicine in the setting of heart bypass surgery (coronary artery bypass graft, or CABG).

Response and Effectiveness

  • Time to peak concentrations varies with different formulations but ranges from 1-4 hours. Pain-relieving effects last for approximately 12 hours.


Naprosyn tablets (naproxen) [package insert]. Revised 07/2010. Genentech, Inc. Accessed 02/2016

  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use naproxen only for the indication prescribed.

  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. This drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. It is an informational resource designed as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of this information. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2017 Revision Date: 2016-02-26 00:00:00