Taking naproxen for pain relief
Written by: Hussain Abdeh MPharm: 2211840
Published on: 12/10/2020
Updated on: 15/12/2021
Pain is associated with countless conditions, some of which may only last a day or two, while others can be chronic, lifelong problems. Pain can be a debilitating and at times unbearable feeling to live with, so finding the most effective pain relief medication to help you to cope, is essential for leading a normal life.
One of the most widely prescribed medicines to relieve pain is naproxen. This nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) provides effective relief from a wide range of painful conditions, from period pain to arthritis.
Here, we will look at how naproxen works to relieve pain in various conditions, when it should be taken and the potential side effects of this medicine. Further information can be found in our pain relief guide.
How does naproxen help manage pain?
Naproxen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), which means that it effectively relieves pain and inflammation caused by various issues. This medicine blocks COX-2 enzymes in the body from producing a hormone-like chemical called prostaglandin, which is responsible for causing inflammation. This relieves pain and reduces inflammation in the joints and muscles.
Naproxen can be taken as a pain reliever for the likes of toothache, period pain, backache, arthritis, strains and sprains and headaches. In most cases, you will need a prescription to buy this medicine, although it can be bought without a prescription for period pain, from a pharmacy.
For more information on Naproxen and what it is used for, read our helpful medical guide to Naproxen.
When should I take naproxen for pain relief?
Naproxen should only be used as your doctor or pharmacist has instructed you. Children can take naproxen, but only if a doctor has prescribed it for them specifically. If it is prescribed for children, the appropriate dosage of naproxen will be decided upon by the doctor.
The dosage required depends on the ailment you are taking naproxen for. The typical dosage to treat conditions like osteoarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and rheumatoid arthritis in adults is 500mg-1,000 mg, to be taken over two doses each day.
For period pain, adults over 18 years of age should take an initial dose of 500 mg. This should be followed by 250 mg every 6 to 8 hours as required. Do not exceed 1,000 mg a day.
As a treatment for gout pain and inflammation, the dose for adults is 750 mg, followed by 250 mg every 8 hours until the attack has ended.
Naproxen can be taken to relieve the pain associated with headaches and migraines, although other NSAIDs may be more effective at relieving this kind of pain. The dosage is normally 500mg every 12 hours.
Is Naproxen a strong painkiller?
Naproxen 250mg and 500mg tablets are the strongest dosage of naproxen available, as a result both strengths are classed as prescription only medicines and can only be purchased when prescribed by a doctor.
Naproxen is a highly effective anti-inflammatory painkiller when treating mild to moderate pain. The anti-inflammatory properties of naproxen make it particularly effective when treating pain caused by inflammation.
How quickly does naproxen work for pain relief?
Most people who take naproxen at the recommended dosage should start to feel better after around one hour of taking the medicine.
However, if you take naproxen regularly twice a day, it may take up to three days for the medicine to reach its full effect. If you do not feel like naproxen is providing you with sufficient pain relief, do not alter your dose yourself. Talk to your doctor, who may alter your dose or recommend that you try a different painkiller medicine altogether.
Naproxen, like any medicine, can cause side effects in some people. However, not everyone who takes it will get side effects.
Common side effects
The common side effects of naproxen occur in more than 1 in 10 people. Tell your doctor if any of the below reactions become serious or do not go away on their own:
- Changes in vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Feeling tired and sleepy
The above list is not exhaustive, for more information regarding Naproxen side effects, you should read the patient information leaflet. Alternatively, you can also read our guide on the side effects of Naproxen.
Can I suddenly stop taking Naproxen?
You should not suddenly stop taking naproxen without talking to your doctor. Suddenly stopping your course of medication could lead to withdrawal symptoms if you have taken naproxen on a long-term basis. It can also cause you to experience even more pain and inflammation than usual. This may also lead you to experience anxiety symptoms.
Your doctor will be able to advise you on how to gradually reduce your doses, so that when you do finally come off the medicine, you should not experience any withdrawal issues.
Is naproxen 500mg a strong painkiller?
Naproxen 500mg is the strongest dose of naproxen available, it is a prescription only medicine and cannot be purchased over the counter.
Can I take 2 Naproxen 500mg at the same time?
You should not take 2 Naproxen 500mg tablets at the same time, the doses should be split equally throughout the day. Certain conditions such as Rheumatic disease requires 1g of Naproxen daily, however NICE guidelines state that this should be divided into 2 x 500mg doses throughout the day, most typically 1 x 500mg tablet in the morning and 1 in the evening.
Does Naproxen 500mg make you feel sleepy?
Tiredness and drowsiness is a common side effect when taking Naproxen. Tiredness is most likely to occur if you have recently increased your naproxen dose, or if you are starting a new course of naproxen.
Your body will get used to naproxen over time and you will likely find that the tiredness may not be as noticeable as your body adapts to the treatment.
Is there a stronger painkiller than naproxen?
Flurbiprofen belongs to the same class of drugs as naproxen and is thought to be slightly more effective than Naproxen according to the BNF. However Flurbiprofen is also associated with more gastro-intestinal complications which may not be suitable for those with a history, or at risk of peptic ulcer disease.
What dose of naproxen is best for treating pain?
Both naproxen 250mg and 500mg are suitable treatment options for mild to moderate pain. However the dose you are prescribed will largely depend on the severity of your condition. It is likely that you will be prescribed the lowest dose of naproxen (250mg) first so your doctor can assess how your body and pain reacts to the treatment.
If Naproxen 250mg is not effective at treating your pain, you will likely be prescribed Naproxen 500mg.
When pain cannot be managed by lifestyle changes and other methods, Naproxen is absolutely one of the most popular choices. Naproxen is commonly prescribed for pain relief due to its anti-inflammatory properties that act fast to relieve pain. It comes with relatively few side effects and allows most people that use it the ability to carry on with their everyday lives.