According to Everyday Health, over-the-counter naproxen, which is commonly branded as Aleve, is used to reduce inflammation, fever, pain, aches and symptoms related to colds and the flu. However, prescribed naproxen is also used to treat arthritis, menstrual cramps, ankylosing spondylitis, tendonitis, gout and bursitis.
Everyday Health states that naproxen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Drugs of this class, known as NSAIDs, relieve pain by blocking the body's production of prostaglandins, which are natural substances that cause inflammation and pain. Doctors in the U.S. have prescribed naproxen since 1980, and it has been available over the counter since 1994, according to Everyday Health.