Arthritis is known to afflict around one fourth of the diagnosed US population, and the joint degenerative condition causes acute discomfort and pain among the affected. On a different note, menstrual cramps/pain is known to affect more than 80% of women who menstruate. Various medications are presently prescribed for managing the two conditions, with varying degrees of success. Celebrex, brand name for Celecoxib is one such NSAID that is typically used in the treatment of osteoarthritis, menstrual cramps, and acute pain. In subsequent sections we will learn all about the medication, its mechanism of action, benefits and side effects of Celebrex.  This will help follow measures to prevent or mitigate any effects.

Overview of Celebrex

Brand name for celecoxib, the medication belongs to the category of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and is a selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor. It is preferred for various reasons including the relatively decreased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding when compared with other medications of similar category. The FDA approved medication is prescribed for managing the following conditions:

In addition to the above, the medication is also prescribed as a cancer chemopreventive and therapeutic drug.

Mechanism of action of Celebrex

Medications that belong to the category of NSAIDs typically work by inhibiting cyclooxygenase enzymes (COX-1 and COX-2), while Celebrex works atypically by selectively inhibiting cyclooxygenase-2 enzyme. This enzyme is one of the reasons that cause inflammation in tissues, as a result of the inflammatory mediators. The medication, by inhibiting the COX-2 enzyme, brings about a reduction in various mediations such as prostaglandin, prostacyclin, and thromboxane. The consequence of this inhibition is significant reduction in inflammation and pain. All COX inhibitors, by virtue of inhibition of prostaglandins, bring about mucosal damage, and ulceration in the GI tract (gastrointestinal tract) One of the reasons for the popularity of Celebrex is the reduced risk of ulceration due to the relatively lesser effect on gastric mucosal prostaglandin synthesis.

As outlined earlier, the medication is also known to have anti-cancerous effects and this is attributed to binding action of the medication with a protein that is conducive to growth of tumors. Other anti-cancerous effects include actions on signaling mechanism and inhibition of carbonic anhydrase enzymes.


The medication comes in the form of a capsule; in the event of individuals finding it difficult to swallow the capsule, the contents of the capsule may also be mixed with applesauce after pricing open the capsule carefully, without contaminating it. The medication comes in strengths of 50, 100, 200, and 400 milligrams.

Proven and recoded outcomes linked to the medication

The medication is known to have a wide range of outcomes, as listed below.

Acute pain – by virtue of the reduction in inflammation and pain, it is effective in helping managing pain in adults, especially when the pain is accompanied with swelling. It is also used in helping manage pain experienced by individuals after surgery, pain linked with sprains, fractures, and back pain. It is also used for managing the pain in patients suffering from headache and migraine. Pain associated with musculoskeletal injuries such as injuries to the bones, ligaments, muscles can be managed to a certain extent with the medication.

Menstrual cramps – it is a prescribed medication for women with primary dysmenorrhea. Commonly known as menstrual cramps, the pain experienced either before or during menstruation periods could be either primary or secondary in nature. The former refers to the condition when it is not the outcome of other conditions. The latter refers to the condition arising out of other conditions.

Osteoarthritis – Considered as one of the most commonly occurring forms of arthritis, it refers to the condition when there is excessive or abnormal degeneration of cartilage in joints. Consequently, bones begin rubbing against each other, during routine movements and actions. The body responds naturally to this condition, by increasing the production of fluids in an effort to protect the bones from wearing out. However, this ends up triggering increased swelling in the joints, and as the condition progresses, the bone may suffer damage. The formation of spurs or lumps is also a possibility on the bones. The medication is known to help alleviate the pain and the swelling in patients with the condition.

Rheumatoid arthritis – This refers to an autoimmune condition wherein the body’s immune system wrongly attacks the lining in the joints causing inflammation and pain. This condition can progress to a level where there is considerable damage to the bone and cartilage, resulting in possible deformation of the bones. Known to typically affect the wrists, hands, and the feet, the condition may also, cause problems to other joints. By virtue of the nature of the actions of the immune system, this may be experienced on a pair of joints generally. In other words, the effect may be the same on two joints with similar functions on either side of the body.  Symptoms associated with the condition include pain, swelling, abnormal warmth in the joints, unusual stiffness in the joints and a reddish appearance. The medication is known to help manage the pain and the inflammation, and this helps alleviate the condition considerably. The medication is also effective in help younger patients with the condition, apart from adults.

Ankylosing spondylitis – The condition refers to arthritis resulting in spinal bone fusion. In other words, the lower portion of the spine is known to fuse with the pelvis. Though this is the typical area or location of the condition, it may also be triggered elsewhere – shoulders or hips or ribs, hands and feet.  The condition occurs when inflammation in the spinal bone, results in damage, and as a consequence, there could be formation of new bone. This new bone may end up fusing (joining) with other bones. This results in pain, stiffness and loss of mobility.

Side effects of Celebrex and FDA warning

The medication comes with warnings from the FDA, which alerts patients about the possible dangerous effects of the medication in certain circumstances. Here is a compilation of possible undesirable effects of the medication.

There is an elevated risk of cardiovascular problems; heart attack or stroke, as a result of the medication in certain patients. This is especially true in patients on the medication for a longer duration, and those recommended higher dosages. Medications of this category are not recommended for patients planning a heart by pass surgery, as there is the possibility of exposing the patient to higher risk of heart attack and stroke.

While it is true that the medication has a relatively lesser effect on ulceration, when compared with other medications, there is the risk of digestive complications. For instance, this could result in slower pace of healing of ulcers, and cold trigger some bleeding in the digestive tract. The risk of effect on the stomach and the intestines cannot be fully ruled out. Similarly, there is also the possibility of the medication causing complications in the esophagus.

Depending on the condition and various factors, risks associated with cardiovascular problems or digestive complications can be fatal in nature in certain circumstances. 

The following side effects of celebrex are known to be mild in nature and may not be a cause for worry. For instance, patients may experience diarrhea, indigestion, pain in the abdomen, possible nausea, vomiting, flatulence, dizzy feelings, headache, and infections in the upper respiratory tract. Mild inflammation of the hands and the feet are another possibility, apart from an abnormal increase in weight, or inflammation of the sinus. These effects are known to resolve naturally without the need for medical intervention, and may not last more than a few days.

In addition to the above, there is also the possibility of individuals ending up with undesirable effects that are serious in nature. These outcomes may require medical intervention and in certain rare circumstances, it may be necessary to seek emergency treatment to prevent aggravation.  Documented serious effects of Celebrex include possible increase in blood pressure, with symptoms such as sudden headache, dizzy feelings or pain the chest. Other outcomes that are serious in nature include possible heart failure, and fluid retention with symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, and abnormal increase in weight. Individuals may also end up with swelling in the hands and the feet.

Undesirable effects also include the possibility of Hyperkalemia, where the patient ends up with high levels of potassium. Symptoms that may be experienced include possible feelings of nausea, pain in the muscles, and overall fatigue. Similarly, the individual may also turn anemic, with reduced red blood cell count, typically characterized by symptoms such as general weakness, feeling of lack of energy, and skin pallor that is relatively pale. The patient may also experience allergic reactions, including possible outbreak of rashes that are itching in nature. Other serious issues that are cause for concern include the possibility of damage to the liver or the kidneys. An unusual or abrupt increase in weight is another possibility.

Possible side effects of celebrex in children

As mentioned above, the medication is also prescribed for children for treating juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and this may expose children to possible undesirable effects. Most effects are similar to that experienced by adults, and commonly reported effects are typically linked to patients who have been on the medication for a period more than six months. Effects of concern include possible DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulation), a condition where the patient ends up with abnormal clotting in the blood. This condition is reportedly rare and may not be experienced by all users of the medication.

Leave a Reply