How Effective Is Naproxen for Arthritis? (with pictures)

Amanda Barnhart
Amanda Barnhart
A packet of naproxen sodium pills.
A packet of naproxen sodium pills.

Naproxen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) commonly used to treat mild to moderate pain, swelling, and stiffness. Using naproxen for arthritis can be an effective way to reduce common arthritis symptoms, including joint pain, inflammation, and stiff joints in some individuals. It is commonly used for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and spinal arthritis, though it can help relieve other types of pain as well.

Arthritis causes pain and inflammation in the joints.
Arthritis causes pain and inflammation in the joints.

As with all medications, it’s important to take only the recommended dose when using naproxen for arthritis. Taking more of the medication than recommended in a single dose or taking naproxen more frequently than indicated by the manufacturer or a doctor’s recommendation will not increase the effectiveness of the drug, and it may cause harmful effects. Most people who take naproxen for arthritis take two or more doses per day, for a total of up to 1500 mg per day.

The drug is available in several different forms, including tablets, extended-release pills, and a liquid oral suspension. Taking the liquid form of the drug may bring relief from arthritis symptoms more quickly. Many arthritis patients take the extended-relief form of naproxen, which allows smaller amounts of the drug to be released over several hours to provide longer-lasting, more effective relief.

It can take several weeks of regular doses before the beneficial effects of naproxen for arthritis are noticeable. Mild symptoms are often relieved rather quickly, but those with moderate to severe arthritis may need a week or two before the medication takes effect. The full effects of naproxen can take several weeks to manifest, particularly in people with continuing arthritis symptoms.

Common side effects of naproxen include constipation, drowsiness, diarrhea, and slight dizziness or drowsiness. These side effects are not usually serious, and they typically subside within a few weeks of regular use of the medication. People taking naproxen for arthritis should not take any other pain relievers or anti-inflammatory drugs unless recommended to do so by their doctors. NSAIDs can cause stomach ulcers or stomach bleeding, which can be serious. The risk of developing these problems increases significantly when taking more than the recommended naproxen dose or when taking a similar medication at the same time.

Other medications can interfere with naproxen or increase the risk of dangerous side effects. Arthritis patients should tell their doctors about any medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, that they currently take before using naproxen. Blood thinners, oral steroids, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be particularly dangerous.

While naproxen is safe for most people when taken as recommended, it can cause severe side effects and problems in some individuals. Signs of an allergic reaction include difficulty breathing, hives, swelling of the face, mouth, or tongue, extreme nausea, and irregular or fast heartbeat. Emergency medical attention should be sought if these symptoms are experienced after taking naproxen.

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    • A packet of naproxen sodium pills.
      A packet of naproxen sodium pills.
    • Arthritis causes pain and inflammation in the joints.
      Arthritis causes pain and inflammation in the joints.