Uses for Celebrex
Celebrex is a non-generic prescription medication that is prescribed to people who suffer from arthritis and other acute pain issues. Also known as celecoxib, this prescription drug is used for pain management primarily in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis (OA), and ankylosing spondylitis. It is considered to be in the category of NSAID medications. NSAIDs include other medications like naproxen and ibuprofen, as well. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are not narcotics, and Celebrex has been officially FDA-approved. Its advantage over other NSAIDs is that it is said to cause less of the side effect of stomach discomfort. All medications come with side effects in one form or another, though some side effects are less common in patients who do not additionally experience increased risk factors, such as heart patients or those with complications that make breathing difficult.
Celecoxib is also noted, from clinical studies, to improve stiffness, pain, and physical function for OA patients. For those who are RA patients, celecoxib has been shown to reduce joint swelling and tenderness. Patients suffering from acute pain have been found to experience almost immediate relief with this prescription. This pain reliever works by inhibiting COX-2 (Cyclooxygenase-2), an enzyme in the body that causes pain and inflammation.1 Celebrex may also be prescribed for those who regularly experience painful menstruation.2
Side Effects of Celebrex
On the Heart and GI System
For heart patients, Celebrex does not interfere with the antiplatelet effect of low-dose aspirin. That being the case, it is important to know that, over time, NSAID use actually increases the risk of ulcers and stomach bleeding. There are still cardiovascular risks to keep in mind, and celecoxib is one of the medications that can “increase the chance of heart attack or stroke…death…(and) Do not take Celebrex right before or after certain heart surgeries”.
Some people may have allergic reactions to aspirin, NSAIDs, and sulfonamides. Those with these allergies, such as hives, facial swelling, and trouble breathing should not take celecoxib. This medication is also contraindicated in late pregnancy.3
Nursing mothers should be aware that this prescription may affect their baby. Patients intending to take Celebrex should not consume alcohol, as it may lead to stomach bleeding. They should also be cautious before taking any allergy, pain, or cold medicine that contains another NSAID. Celebrex can increase the patient’s risk of developing sunburns. Therefore excessive exposure to sunlight and the use of tanning beds should be avoided.
Other Side Effects
Some side effects of this medication include dizziness, headache, nervousness, sore throat, congestion, minor rash, and digestive complaints. More serious problems include rash, bruising, itching, loss of appetite, jaundice, muscle weakness, swelling, coughing up blood or vomit, chest pain, and abnormal urine and stools.4 Because of the serious side effects and other issues, it is important that patients weigh their decision to take Celebrex seriously. Just as they would seriously consider the use of any other medications that come with risky side effects. This medication is “harder on the heart” than other NSAIDs. It “may not be much easier on the gut”. It might not be more effective than other NSAIDs or acetaminophen. And it is expensive—more so than over-the-counter medications.
Other Drug Options
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or generic NSAIDs may be safer for people with OA. Naproxen may be best for people with heart disease. Those at risk for gastrointestinal bleeding might need to combine their medications with a “stomach-protecting drug such as omeprazole” (i.e., Prilosec). Celebrex is no different than many other medications in that taking it is a decision that should not be made lightly or without a real reason. Some patients really do need medications or surgery, but those who have a choice should seek safer, alternative care options.5
Alternative Treatments for Arthritis
Care provided by a chiropractor or physical therapy treatments may be helpful for those with arthritis. Heat, ice, range-of-motion exercises, and transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS) may be able to more safely assist those with arthritic pain with a greatly diminished chance of experiencing any side effects. The use of ergonomic devices can also provide daily relief. Even patients who have not developed arthritis should keep their ergonomics and posture in mind to avoid unnecessary or repetitive stress that could lead to future complications.
Patients might even wish to try mind-body therapies, such as relaxation, breathing exercises, and biofeedback. Rest and relaxation is almost always a major component in relief. Yoga and tai chi can help with pain management, flexibility, and strength. Fish oil can reduce inflammation.6 Other non-drug activities can help manage arthritis symptoms, such as losing weight, low impact aerobics, wearing low-heeled and supportive shoes, sitting in chairs that have arms and proper back support, keeping warm, taking supplements with “glucosamine sulfate (not hydrochloride)”, and using creams with capsaicin. Acupuncture and massage may also be helpful treatment methods that a chiropractor might recommend as a few additional options.7
1, 3 http://www.celebrex.com/default.aspx
5, 7 http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/05/should-you-still-take-celebrex/index.htm
Read about more information regarding chiropractic care for arthritis.