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Naproxen Sodium for Migraine Relief: Efficacy, Safety, and Usage

What is Naproxen Sodium and Can it be Used in Migraine Management?

Naproxen sodium is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is commonly used to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and lower fever. It works by inhibiting the production of certain chemicals in the body that cause inflammation and pain. Naproxen sodium is available over-the-counter and in prescription-strength formulations. (1,2)

Naproxen sodium can be used for various conditions, including:

  • Pain Relief: It is often used to alleviate mild to moderate pain, such as headaches, dental pain, menstrual cramps, and muscle aches.
  • Inflammation Reduction: It helps to reduce inflammation associated with conditions like arthritis, tendinitis, and bursitis.
  • Fever Reduction: Naproxen sodium can help lower fever in cases of infections or other fever-inducing conditions.

In migraine management, naproxen sodium can be used to relieve migraine headaches. (3) Some people find it helpful in reducing the pain and inflammation associated with migraines. However, it’s important to note that naproxen sodium might not be the first-line treatment for migraines, as there are specific medications designed to target migraines more effectively.

Let’s take a closer look at the efficacy and safety of naproxen sodium when it comes to migraine management.

What is Migraine?

To begin with, let us take a brief look at what exactly is migraine and how it differs from your regular headache. Migraine is a neurological disorder characterized by recurring and severe headaches, often accompanied by a variety of other symptoms. It is important to understand that it is more than just a regular headache; migraines can significantly impact a person’s daily life and well-being. Migraine headaches can last for hours to days and are typically associated with certain triggers or factors. (4,5)

Key features of migraine include:

  1. Pain: Migraine headaches are usually one-sided and throbbing in nature. The pain can range from moderate to severe and may worsen with physical activity.
  2. Duration: Migraines can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. They tend to have distinct phases, including the prodrome (early warning signs), aura (visual disturbances for some individuals), headache phase, and postdrome (recovery phase).
  3. Other Symptoms: Migraines are often accompanied by other symptoms such as sensitivity to light (photophobia), sound (phonophobia), and sometimes smells. Nausea and vomiting are also common during a migraine attack.
  4. Triggers: Certain factors or triggers can provoke migraine attacks. These can include stress, hormonal changes (such as menstruation), specific foods, changes in sleep patterns, weather changes, and more.
  5. Family History: Migraine tends to run in families, suggesting a genetic component.
  6. Auras: Some individuals experience auras before or during a migraine. Auras are temporary sensory disturbances that can affect vision, hearing, or other sensations. Not everyone with migraines experiences auras. (6)

Naproxen Sodium for Migraine Management

Naproxen sodium, as outlined earlier, is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It’s typically employed for pain alleviation, inflammation reduction, and fever control. Though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t granted explicit approval for its use in migraine treatment, it’s frequently utilized off-label for managing migraine-related discomfort. (7)

While the precise mechanisms by which naproxen sodium mitigates migraine symptoms remain elusive, several potential pathways through which it may exert its effects are suggested: (8,9)

  • Inflammation Reduction: Naproxen sodium belongs to the class of NSAIDs, which work by inhibiting an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX). COX is involved in the production of prostaglandins, which are chemicals that contribute to inflammation and pain. By reducing prostaglandin levels, naproxen sodium can help alleviate the inflammation and swelling that may contribute to migraine pain. (10)
  • Pain Relief: Migraine headaches are often associated with intense throbbing or pulsating pain. Naproxen sodium’s pain-relieving properties can help decrease the severity of headache pain, making it more manageable for individuals experiencing a migraine attack.
  • Vasoconstriction: Some researchers believe that naproxen sodium and other NSAIDs may have a vasoconstrictive effect, meaning they can help narrow blood vessels. In migraines, blood vessels in the brain often dilate (widen), contributing to the pain and other symptoms. By causing vasoconstriction, naproxen sodium may help reduce the dilation of blood vessels and consequently alleviate some migraine symptoms. (11)
  • Effects on the Central Nervous System: NSAIDs like naproxen sodium can also have effects on the central nervous system (CNS). Migraines are believed to involve abnormal brain activity, and the CNS effects of naproxen sodium might help modulate pain signaling and reduce the intensity of the migraine attack. (12)

Efficacy and Safety of Using Naproxen Sodium for Migraine Management

The efficacy and safety of using naproxen sodium for migraine management have been subjects of interest among healthcare professionals and researchers. While naproxen sodium is not specifically approved by regulatory agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of migraines, it is sometimes used off-label as a potential option for migraine relief. However, its effectiveness and safety profile need to be carefully considered before use. (13,14)


Some studies and clinical trials have explored Naproxen’s potential as a treatment for migraines, and findings suggest that it may offer some relief for certain individuals experiencing migraines:

  • Pain Relief: Naproxen sodium’s pain-relieving properties have been found to help reduce the intensity of headache pain associated with migraines. It can provide relief by addressing the inflammation and discomfort caused by dilated blood vessels in the brain.
  • Combination Therapy: In some cases, naproxen sodium is used in combination with other medications, such as triptans or antiemetics, to manage different aspects of migraine attacks, such as pain and nausea.


While naproxen sodium can be effective for pain relief, its safety profile should be taken into consideration, especially when used for migraine management:

  • Gastrointestinal Effects: NSAIDs, including naproxen sodium, can potentially cause gastrointestinal side effects such as stomach ulcers, bleeding, and irritation. Individuals with a history of gastrointestinal issues should use naproxen sodium cautiously and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
  • Cardiovascular Risk: While NSAIDs as a class have been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular complications such as heart attacks and strokes, it’s important to note that not all NSAIDs carry the same level of risk. Some studies suggest that naproxen sodium might pose a lower cardiovascular risk compared to other NSAIDs. However, particularly when used in high doses or over extended periods, there’s still a potential for increased risk. As always, it’s essential for individuals to consult with their healthcare provider when considering naproxen sodium or any other NSAID for prolonged use.
  • Kidney Function: NSAIDs can affect kidney function, leading to fluid retention and potential kidney damage. People with kidney issues or pre-existing kidney conditions should exercise caution when using naproxen sodium.
  • Medication Interactions: Naproxen sodium can interact with other medications, including blood thinners and certain antihypertensive drugs. It’s important for individuals to inform their healthcare provider about all medications they are taking to avoid potential interactions.

So while naproxen sodium may provide relief for some individuals with migraines, its efficacy and safety should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Consultation with a healthcare professional is essential before using naproxen sodium or any medication for migraine management.


There is no doubt that naproxen sodium can play a role in migraine management for certain individuals. Its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties make it a potential option for alleviating the intensity of headache pain associated with migraines. However, its use should be approached with caution, considering both its efficacy and safety profile.

Before considering naproxen sodium for migraine relief, individuals should consult with a healthcare professional. They can provide personalized guidance, taking into account the individual’s medical history, potential interactions with other medications, and any underlying health conditions. While naproxen sodium may offer relief for some, it is important to weigh its benefits against potential risks, especially related to gastrointestinal effects, cardiovascular risks, and kidney function. It’s crucial to remember that while medications can provide relief, they are not one-size-fits-all solutions and should be tailored to individual needs.


  1. Capone, M.L., Tacconelli, S., Sciulli, M.G., Anzellotti, P., Di Francesco, L., Merciaro, G., Di Gregorio, P. and Patrignani, P., 2007. Human pharmacology of naproxen sodium. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 322(2), pp.453-460.
  2. Segre, E.J., 1980. Naproxen sodium (Anaprox): pharmacology, pharmacokinetics and drug interactions. The Journal of reproductive medicine, 25(4 Suppl), pp.222-225.
  3. Johnson, E.S., Ratcliffe, D.M. and Wilkinson, M., 1985. Naproxen sodium in the treatment of migraine. Cephalalgia, 5(1), pp.5-10.
  4. Baloh, R.W., 1997. Neurotology of migraine. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 37(10), pp.615-621.
  5. Friedman, D.I. and De Ver Dye, T., 2009. Migraine and the environment. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 49(6), pp.941-952.
  6. Rasmussen, B.K. and Olesen, J., 1992. Migraine with aura and migraine without aura: an epidemiological study. Cephalalgia, 12(4), pp.221-228.
  7. (No date) Zofran (ondansetron hydrochloride) label – Food and Drug Administration. Available at: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2016/020103s035_020605s019_020781s019lbl.pdf (Accessed: 11 August 2023).
  8. Law, S., Derry, S. and Moore, R.A., 2013. Naproxen with or without an antiemetic for acute migraine headaches in adults. Cochrane database of systematic reviews, (10).
  9. Becker, W.J., 2015. Acute migraine treatment in adults. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 55(6), pp.778-793.
  10. Syed, Y.Y., 2016. Sumatriptan/naproxen sodium: a review in migraine. Drugs, 76, pp.111-121.
  11. Pavličević, I., Glavaški, M., Rumboldt, M. and Rumboldt, Z., 2011. Prohypertensive effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are mostly due to vasoconstriction. Collegium antropologicum, 35(3), pp.817-822.
  12. Auriel, E., Regev, K. and Korczyn, A.D., 2014. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs exposure and the central nervous system. Handbook of clinical neurology, 119, pp.577-584.
  13. Suthisisang, C.C., Poolsup, N., Suksomboon, N., Lertpipopmetha, V. and Tepwitukgid, B., 2010. Meta‐analysis of the efficacy and safety of naproxen sodium in the acute treatment of migraine. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 50(5), pp.808-818.
  14. Brandes, J.L., Kudrow, D., Stark, S.R., O’Carroll, C.P., Adelman, J.U., O’Donnell, F.J., Alexander, W.J., Spruill, S.E., Barrett, P.S. and Lener, S.E., 2007. Sumatriptan-naproxen for acute treatment of migraine: a randomized trial. Jama, 297(13), pp.1443-1454.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 19, 2023

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