Difference Wiki

Naproxen vs. Tramadol: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 30, 2023
Naproxen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used for pain and inflammation relief. Tramadol is an opioid-like pain reliever primarily for moderate to severe pain.

Key Differences

Naproxen and tramadol are two distinct medications used primarily for pain management. Naproxen belongs to the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) class. It works by reducing the production of hormones causing inflammation and pain in the body. In contrast, tramadol is an opioid-like pain reliever. It functions by altering the brain's perception and response to pain, acting on specific neurotransmitters.
Though both naproxen and tramadol can be prescribed for pain, their specific use cases vary. Naproxen is often prescribed for conditions like arthritis, menstrual cramps, or other pain resulting from inflammation. Tramadol, on the other hand, is used for moderate to severe pain conditions. Its efficacy in addressing pain is higher compared to regular NSAIDs.
When comparing side effects, naproxen, like other NSAIDs, can lead to stomach ulcers, heart problems, or kidney issues if taken for prolonged periods or in high doses. Tramadol, being an opioid-like substance, carries risks like respiratory depression, addiction, or overdose. Both drugs require monitoring by healthcare professionals to ensure safety.
While naproxen can be found over-the-counter in lower doses, it's also available via prescription in higher doses. Tramadol, however, is strictly prescription-only due to its potential for misuse and dependence. When using either drug, it's essential to follow the recommended dosages and be aware of potential drug interactions.

Comparison Chart

Drug Class

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)
Opioid-like pain reliever

Primary Use

Pain and inflammation relief
Moderate to severe pain relief

Mechanism of Action

Reduces hormones causing pain and inflammation
Alters brain's perception and response to pain

Risk of Side Effects

Stomach ulcers, heart problems, kidney issues
Respiratory depression, addiction, overdose

Prescription Requirement

Over-the-counter and prescription

Naproxen and Tramadol Definitions


An NSAID used to treat pain.
The doctor recommended naproxen for her arthritis pain.


An opioid-like medication for pain relief.
Tramadol was prescribed after his surgery to manage pain.


A drug that reduces inflammation.
Naproxen helped reduce the swelling in his injured ankle.


Alters the brain's perception of pain.
Thanks to tramadol, he felt significantly less discomfort.


Available in both prescription and over-the-counter strengths.
For mild headaches, she takes over-the-counter naproxen.


Used primarily for moderate to severe pain.
In cases where NSAIDs are ineffective, tramadol might be considered.


Can be used for various pain-related conditions.
Naproxen is effective for menstrual cramps and muscle strains.


Carries a risk of dependency and overdose.
Patients must strictly follow the prescribed tramadol dose.


Has potential gastrointestinal side effects.
Taking naproxen without food can upset the stomach.


Available strictly via prescription.
Due to its potential for misuse, tramadol isn't sold over-the-counter.


A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, C14H14O3, used to treat fever and pain.


A synthetic analgesic, C16H25NO2, used in its hydrochloride form to treat moderate to moderately severe pain. It is structurally similar to codeine and has both opioid and nonopioid effects.


(pharmacology) A certain non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that inhibits the COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes and thereby reduces pain, fever, inflammation, and stiffness.


(pharmaceutical drug) A synthetic opioid analgesic administered orally in the form of its hydrochloride C16H25NO2·HCl to treat moderate to severe pain.


A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (trade name Naprosyn) used in the treatment of arthritis and musculoskeletal inflammation and moderate pain


Can naproxen be taken for headaches?

Yes, naproxen can be effective for tension headaches and migraines.

Does naproxen raise blood pressure?

Yes, naproxen, like other NSAIDs, can potentially raise blood pressure.

What type of drug is naproxen?

Naproxen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).

Can I buy naproxen without a prescription?

Yes, lower doses of naproxen are available over-the-counter.

Can tramadol cause drowsiness?

Yes, drowsiness is a potential side effect of tramadol.

Is it safe to drink alcohol with naproxen?

Mixing alcohol with naproxen can increase the risk of stomach bleeding.

Is tramadol safe for long-term use?

Long-term use of tramadol requires monitoring due to risks of dependency and side effects.

Can I become addicted to tramadol?

Yes, there's a potential for misuse and dependency with tramadol.

Is naproxen safe for kids?

Consult a pediatrician before giving naproxen to children.

How long does the effect of tramadol last?

The duration varies but usually lasts between 4 to 6 hours for immediate-release versions.

What are common uses for naproxen?

Arthritis, menstrual cramps, and headaches are among its uses.

Is tramadol effective for nerve pain?

Tramadol can be prescribed for various pain types, including neuropathic pain, but consult a doctor.

Is tramadol an opioid?

Tramadol is an opioid-like pain reliever but is distinct from traditional opioids.

Is tramadol stronger than regular painkillers?

Tramadol is generally stronger than many over-the-counter painkillers.

Can naproxen cause an upset stomach?

Yes, gastrointestinal issues are common side effects of NSAIDs like naproxen.

Does tramadol interact with other medications?

Yes, especially with other central nervous system depressants. Always check with a doctor.

Can I take naproxen if I'm pregnant?

Always consult with a healthcare professional before taking medications during pregnancy.

What's the risk of overdose with tramadol?

Overdose can result in respiratory depression, which can be life-threatening.

How should I store naproxen?

In a cool, dry place, away from direct light.

How often should I take tramadol?

Dosage varies; always follow the prescribing physician's instructions.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons