Naproxen is a painkiller that belongs to the class of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Painkillers are used to manage and alleviate pain and inflammation, most often when migraines occur, or when you suffer injuries, or experience muscle and joint pain. In this article, the reader is going to find information on Naproxen for migraine relief, its ingredients and how it works, recommended dosage and how to take it, common and serious side effects, as well as contraindications and advice.
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Reviewed by Patrick Moser, FNP-BC
Information last reviewed 07/13/19
Naproxen belongs to the class of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and is used to manage and relieve pain and inflammation. Naproxen is often used in the treatment of migraine headaches or muscle and joint pain. Doctors at Medzino can issue a prescription of Naproxen for migraine relief if you are suitable. Migraine is a complex disorder. While for some people migraine is an occasional problem that can be effectively managed, for many it is a frequent occurrence that leaves them incapacitated. Most patients who suffer from episodic migraines (only occurring once in a while) have recourse to medications like Naproxen to help relieve mild to moderate pain. However, NSAIDs like Naproxen can also be administrated as part of preventive treatment, otherwise known as prophylactic therapy, for chronic migraine. Prophylactic therapy is warranted when migraine attacks occur more than 2 to 3 times per month for more than 48h. It can also be prescribed if migraine attacks cause substantial functional impairment or if conventional treatments for migraine relief are ineffective or cause serious side effects.
NSAIDs like Naproxen work by blocking the mechanisms of pain. When you suffer from a condition such as arthritis, or have an injury, an enzyme in your body called cyclo-oxygenase (COX) produces substances called prostaglandins, which cause pain, swelling and inflammation. When you take Naproxen, it stops the COX from working and producing the prostaglandins, thereby reducing pain and inflammation. If you are pregnant, Naproxen is usually not recommended as it may be linked to birth defects and miscarriage in early pregnancy. The preferred painkiller for pregnant women is usually Paracetamol which is not a NSAID. If you are breastfeeding, other medicines such as Ibuprofen (an over the counter NSAID) might be safer. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of taking Naproxen.
Naproxen works immediately once it is absorbed in the GI tract. This means you should start feeling relief after about 30 minutes to one hour. Relief lasts up to 4-6 hours.
Naproxen contains the active ingredient naproxen at a concentration of 500mg.
Naproxen contains the following inactive ingredients: magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, povidone and talc. The coating suspension may contain hydroxypropyl methylcellulose 2910, Opaspray K-1-4227, polyethylene glycol 8000 or Opadry YS-1-4216.
Please note: inactive ingredients can vary across different manufacturers.
The recommended dosage of Naproxen will vary depending on your condition. For the management of acute pain such as migraine, it is usually recommended that you take a starting dose of 500mg (one tablet) followed by 250mg (half of a 500mg tablet) every 6-8 hours as required. Take Naproxen orally (by mouth) with or after your meal in order to prevent upsetting your stomach.
The maximum recommended dose per day is 1250mg of naproxen. Do not exceed this limit.
If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember, unless it’s almost time for your next dose. In that case, skip the dose you forgot and take the one that is due soon. Do not take your dose twice in order to make up for the forgotten dose.
For the treatment of acute migraine, it is recommended that you take a starting dose of 750 mg (1 1/2 tablets). An additional 250 mg (1/2 tablet) or 500 mg (1 tablet) may be given if needed in 4-6 hours after the initial dosage. For prophylactic therapy to prevent migraines, the dose is 250 mg to 500 mg twice a day for 3 to 6 months. Take Naproxen orally (by mouth) with or after your meal in order to prevent upsetting your stomach. The maximum recommended dose per day is 1250mg of naproxen. Do not exceed this limit. If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember, unless it’s almost time for your next dose. In that case, skip the dose you forgot and take the one that is due soon. Do not take your dose twice in order to make up for the forgotten dose. It is advised to use medications for acute migraine with moderation as they might cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, rebound headaches and progression to chronic headache disorders. Often, anti-nausea and other symptom-preventing medications are given alongside the migraine medication to prevent such side effects.
Get immediate medical help if you experience an allergic reaction to Naproxen. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include: rash (itchy, red, swollen blistered or peeling skin), wheezing, swelling/itching of the face/tongue/throat, severe dizziness, difficulty breathing.
General side effects include:
It is advised to use medications for acute migraine with moderation as they might cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, rebound headaches and progression to chronic headache disorders. Often, anti-nausea and other symptom-preventing medications are given alongside the migraine medication to prevent such side effects. If any of these symptoms persist or cause distress, talk to your doctor.
If you experience any of these rare but very serious side effects, get medical help right away.
Naproxen is contraindicated in the following cases:
Always inform your doctor of all the medications you take as these may interfere with the effects of Naproxen. Medications that may interfere with Naproxen include: drugs called ‘steroids’ such as Prednisolone, other painkillers such as Aspirin or Ibuprofen, blood-thinners such as Warfarin or Rivaroxaban, antidepressants such as Citalopram, medicines for heart disease and high blood pressure, diuretics (drugs to make you pee more) such as Furosemide, medicine for rheumatoid arthritis such as Methotrexate.
Naproxen, and all NSAIDs, can increase the risk of bleeding. You should not take Naproxen on an empty stomach, as it can damage the lining of the stomach and cause stomach ulcers. Ulcers in the stomach can bleed slowly or quickly, causing anything from pain or discomfort to life-threatening bleeding. You should not take Naproxen if you have an active gastric or peptic ulcer, or a history of gastric/peptic ulcers. You should not take Naproxen if you currently take blood thinners. You should not take it with aspirin.
Naproxen and Ibuprofen are two medications of the same class and both work effectively to treat common aches and pains. They work similarly and in general, can be interchangeable.
Naproxen can cause kidney injury in people who are susceptible. You should not take Naproxen if you have a history of kidney disease.
Naproxen can be used to treat common aches and pains, including back pain. Common back pain, such as muscle strain or soreness from exercise can be relieved by Naproxen. This is because Naproxen has an anti-inflammatory effect, which calms down inflamed tissue whether inflamed from over-exertion, injury, or other trauma.
If Naproxen doesn’t work, you should speak to your doctor to evaluate for an alternative treatment for you. Sometimes, other medications in the NSAID family, such as Ibuprofen, may be more effective. Otherwise, you may want to try Acetaminophen (Tylenol) which has a different mechanism of action.
Naproxen is sold over the counter in the United States and many other countries. Naproxen is not an illegal drug or a highly regulated substance.
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