Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Gout
Celebrex is most commonly used to treat the pain and inflammation of arthritis, the most common types of which are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout. It has also been prescribed for acute pain and menstrual pain.
Though various uses have been tested, Celebrex continues to be prescribed primarily for its original application, patients suffering the long-term pain and inflammation of arthritis. In 2006, Celebrex was approved for treating Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis in patients aged 2-17 years. Previously, it had only been recommended for use in adult patients.
The idea behind COX-2 inhibitors like Celebrex is that they can be ingested in higher doses than traditional pain killers such as ibuprofen, thereby increasing their effectiveness in treating pain.
However, the high incidence of fatal cardiovascular events caused Vioxx and Bextra to be removed from the market. In the case of Celebrex, which is still on the market, the associated side effects and risk factors have caused most medical organizations, including the FDA, to recommend that it be administered in the lowest possible effective dosages.
Celebrex and Ankylosing Spondylitis
Celebrex can be prescribed for the symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis, a condition commonly known as “spinal arthritis” in which patients experience inflammation and loss of motion in the spine and neck. In the preliminary trials, Celebrex provided relief for many patients with AS by reducing the swelling and pressure on the spine.
Celebrex and Colorectal Cancer
Celebrex has been widely used as an agent for preventing colon polyps in patients with Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP), a hereditary condition causing the development of colon polyps which give patients a predisposition toward colon and rectal cancer.
Although early results showed a decrease in colorectal polyps in patients using high doses of Celebrex, trials also showed an increase in heart attacks and strokes.
The risk of cardiovascular complications seems to be directly related to dosages; however, lower dosages of Celebrex did not have the same preventative effect on colon polyps.
Celebrex and Alzheimer’s Disease
A trial funded by the U.S. National Institute on Aging, and concluded in 2008, tested the effects of the NSAIDs Celebrex and Naproxen (found in Aleve) on patients with a family history of Alzheimer’s Disease.
It was hoped that the drugs would have a preventative effect by treating the brain swelling that seems to be a symptom of Alzheimer’s Disease. Unfortunately, evidence showed that the drugs had no positive effects, and in fact there was some evidence that the medications worsened cognitive decline in these patients.