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BACKGROUND: Naproxen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, is used to treat various painful conditions including postoperative pain, and is often administered as the sodium salt to improve its solubility. This review updates a 2004 Cochrane review showing that naproxen sodium 550 mg (equivalent to naproxen 500 mg) was effective for treating postoperative pain. New studies have since been published. OBJECTIVES: To assess efficacy, duration of action, and associated adverse events of single dose oral naproxen or naproxen sodium in acute postoperative pain in adults. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched Cochrane CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Oxford Pain Relief Database for studies to October 2008. SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled trials of single dose orally administered naproxen or naproxen sodium in adults with moderate to severe acute postoperative pain. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two review authors independently assessed trial quality and extracted data. Pain relief or pain intensity data were extracted and converted into the dichotomous outcome of number of participants with at least 50% pain relief over four to six hours, from which relative risk and number-needed-to-treat-to-benefit (NNT) were calculated. Numbers of participants using rescue medication over specified time periods, and time to use of rescue medication, were sought as additional measures of efficacy. Information on adverse events and withdrawals were collected. MAIN RESULTS: The original review included 10 studies with 996 participants. This updated review included 15 studies (1509 participants); 11 assessed naproxen sodium and four naproxen. In nine studies (784 participants) using 500/550 mg naproxen or naproxen sodium the NNT for at least 50% pain relief over four to six hours was 2.7 (95% CI 2.3 to 3.2). No dose response was demonstrated over the range 200/220 mg to 500/550 mg, but limited data was identified. Median time to use of rescue medication was 8.9 hours for naproxen 500/550 mg and 2.0 hours for placebo. Use of rescue medication was significantly less common with naproxen than placebo. Associated adverse events were generally of mild to moderate severity and rarely led to withdrawal. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Doses equivalent to 500 mg and 400 mg naproxen administered orally provided effective analgesia to adults with moderate to severe acute postoperative pain. About half of participants treated with these doses experienced clinically useful levels of pain relief, compared to 15% with placebo, and half required additional medication within nine hours, compared to two hours with placebo. Associated adverse events did not differ from placebo.

Original publication




Journal article


Cochrane Database Syst Rev

Publication Date



Acute Disease, Administration, Oral, Adult, Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal, Humans, Naproxen, Pain, Postoperative, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, Sodium