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Naproxen Vs. Ibuprofen. What Is the Difference Between the Two?

Last Updated: March 23, 2024

Authored by Nena Messina, Ph.D.

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Though it is a safe and cheap pain management tool, there are plenty of alternatives to Naproxen. If one decides to swap the drug, Naproxen alternatives can be NSAID (same class of drugs as Naproxen) or non-NSAID. The difference between Naproxen and its alternatives will depend on things like side effects, lasting duration, costs, and availability. Find out more about the Naproxen substitutes and respective pros and cons.

Is Aleve the Same As Ibuprofen?

Naproxen and Ibuprofen are similar since they’re both NSAID drugs used for pain relief and reducing inflammation. They’re both used to treat conditions like toothaches and menstrual cramps. However, the choice of Aleve vs. Ibuprofen depends on the exact use case.

What They Do

NSAIDs prevent the enzyme called cyclooxygenase ( COX) from making prostaglandins in the body. As prostaglandins contribute to inflammation and associated pain, Ibuprofen and Naproxen relieve the pain and reduce inflammation. The Medications Are Used to Treat Minor Pains, Such As:

  • Headache
  • Toothache
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever

However, they are also effective in treating other conditions.

These Conditions Include:

  • Joints diseases
  • Osteoarthritis and
  • Gout
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sprains and strains

Difference Between Ibuprofen and Aleve

If it’s a sudden sports-related injury, Ibuprofen is more commonly used, whereas Aleve is more common for more permanent conditions like arthritis. When comparing the longevity of action, Aleve is longer-lasting, whereas Ibuprofen is short-lasting. The severity of side effects in Naproxen vs. Ibuprofen also varies, with Aleve more likely to cause an upset stomach due to it being longer-lasting. Both can be obtained over-the-counter, but Naprosyn can also be prescribed by a doctor.

Naproxen and ibuprofen on the table.

Due to the difference in duration, a Naprosyn dose needs to be administered less often than Ibuprofen. However, both can lead to stomach bleeding and renal issues if taken at the wrong dose or for too long.

Here is a brief overview of the difference between Ibuprofen and Aleve:

Naproxen Ibuprofen
Brand Names Naprelan, Naprosyn, Anaprox, Aleve, Naproxen Sodium Advil, Motrin, IBU, Advil Migraine
Available Forms oral immediate-release tablet, oral delayed-release tablet, oral suspension tablet, chewable tablet, liquid, drops of concentrated liquid
Usual Dose 220 mg 200 mg
How Often to Take? every 8 to 12 hours every 4 to 6 hours
Daily Maximum Dose 660 mg 1200 mg.
Use in Children 12 years and older 6 months and older

Comparing Aleve and Other Medications

Apart from the comparison of Naproxen vs. Ibuprofen, it is also often compared with other drugs, both NSAID and non-NSAID.

Diclofenac vs. Naproxen

Diclofenac (Zorvolex, Voltaren) is another alternative for reducing inflammation in conditions like arthritis. Comparing Diclofenac vs. Naproxen, they’re both similar in that they’re both risky to heart health. So, one should minimize the use of them both if they’re suffering from heart problems. Another difference is that Diclofenac can’t be used for treating all types of pain, such as nerve pain, for example.

Celebrex vs. Aleve

Celebrex is another alternative to Aleve because both treat pain and inflammation in cases like rheumatoid arthritis.

Doctor holding a pill bottle.

In comparing Celebrex vs. Aleve, the differences are mainly down to side effects and availability. Moreover, Celebrex is only available through prescription, so this is a downside of Celebrex.

Naproxen vs. Aspirin

Aspirin is also an NSAID alternative to Naproxen, relieving both pain and inflammation. They are both easily available over-the-counter. The difference between drugs is in their use cases. While Aspirin is used to treat fevers and pain, Aleve is mostly used to treat muscle soreness and inflammation (such as arthritis). Further comparison of Aspirin vs. Naprosyn shows that later one is generally not used for heart conditions like Aspirin is.

Natural and OTC Alternatives to Aleve

When it comes to pain management, there are plenty of medications available both by prescription and over the counter. However, it’s vital to be aware of the possible alternatives to minimize side effects and enhance the pain-relieving effect.

Taking any medication or natural alternative without consulting a doctor may be dangerous to one’s health.


Certain natural herbs and spices cloves can reduce inflammation and hence pain. The main difference between them and OTC drugs is that they may not be as effective and slower to act.

Such Natural Alternatives Include:

  • Omega-3 EFAs (fish oil)
  • White willow bark
  • Curcumin (turmeric)
  • Green tea
  • Pycnogenol (maritime pine bark)
  • Boswellia serrata resin (Frankincense)
  • Resveratrol
  • Uncaria tomentosa (cat’s claw)
  • Capsaicin (chili pepper)

However, one should avoid taking Naprosyn and a natural alternative simultaneously to avoid the risk of severe Naprosyn side effects. Natural alternatives may also cause adverse reactions, including allergy.


For people looking for an OTC alternative to Naproxen, there are plenty on the market. In comparison with Ibuprofen, it was stated that Ibuprofen is a common OTC alternative to Naprosyn. Most Ibuprofen-based medicine works well as an OTC alternative. While Tylenol can also be obtained OTC, the difference is that it does not treat swelling like other NSAID alternatives.

Choosing The Safe Alternative

There is a hip of Naproxen alternatives on the market. Each comes with its own advantages and disadvantages, which arise from drug class, interactions, and accessibility. It is imperative to consult with the doctor about the replacement of the medicine and pay attention to Naprosyn interactions in order to avoid undesired effects and additional risks.

Pain relievers like Naprosyn can become addictive easily. Taking too much leads to deadly consequences for the heart, kidneys, and stomach. Once the addiction is uncovered, one should seek specialized treatment for substance addiction. Addicted individuals require proper treatment by qualified staff at the best local drug rehab centers.

Page Sources

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  2. MedlinePlus. Ibuprofen. 2020. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682159.html
  3. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Ibuprofen Drug Facts Label. 2016. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/postmarket-drug-safety-information-patients-and-providers/ibuprofen-drug-facts-label
  4. Maurizio de Martino, Alberto Chiarugi, Attilio Boner, Giovanni Montini, and Gianluigi L. de’ Angelis Working Towards an Appropriate Use of Ibuprofen in Children: An Evidence-Based Appraisal https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5529476/
  5. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. EC-NAPROSYN~ (naproxen delayed-release tablets) NAPROSYN~ (naproxen tablets) ANAPROX~/ANAPROX~ DS (naproxen sodium tablets) NAPROSYN~ (naproxen suspension) https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2007/017581s108,18164s58,18965s16,20067s14lbl.pdf
  6. Joseph C. Maroon, Jeffrey W. Bost, and Adara Maroon. Natural anti-inflammatory agents for pain relief. 2010. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3011108/
  7. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Voltaren® (diclofenac sodium enteric-coated tablets). https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2009/019201s038lbl.pdf
  8. DailyMed. CELEBREX- celecoxib capsule. 2015. https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/lookup.cfm?setid=73eb9256-dcda-4eb1-8a6e-700522146f2e
  9. Published on: March 23rd, 2020

    Updated on: March 23rd, 2024

    About Author

    Nena Messina, Ph.D.

    Nena Messina is a specialist in drug-related domestic violence. She devoted her life to the study of the connection between crime, mental health, and substance abuse. Apart from her work as management at addiction center, Nena regularly takes part in the educational program as a lecturer.

    Medically Reviewed by

    Michael Espelin APRN

    8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.

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