April 18, 2022
5 min. read

Celebrex: Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Uses & Side Effects


Treatments for conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and acute pain usually aim to lower inflammation and swelling, ease painful symptoms, and prevent long-term joint damage. While treatment varies from patient to patient, more than two million people in the United States have used a drug called Celebrex to treat their symptoms. 

Celebrex is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) which can relieve you of symptoms of pain and swelling in order to help you perform more of your normal daily activities. To learn more about Celebrex and whether it may be right for you and your symptoms, take a look at our deep dive below.

What is Celebrex? 

Celebrex is a brand-name prescription medication. Celebrex specifically is a COX-2 inhibitor, which means it blocks the enzyme in your body that makes prostaglandins. By decreasing the amount of prostaglandins in the body, Celebrex works to reduce symptoms of both pain and inflammation.

What is Celebrex used for? 

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved Celebrex for use in a number of different conditions. 

Acute Pain 

Celebrex can help treat short-term pain in adults. Because this medication reduces inflammation, it is particularly useful in treating pain when swelling is present or involved. Type of acute pain treated with Celebrex include: 

  • pain following surgery
  • pain following injuries such as sprains or fractures
  • back pain
  • gout
  • headache and migraine
  • menstrual cramps


Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in adults. The condition causes pain, swelling, and stiffness of the affected joints. Celebrex can be used to combat joint pain and swelling, helping to improve the daily functioning of people with the condition. While Celebrex has been found to be as effective as a different NSAID, Naproxen, that is commonly used to treat OA, Celebrex is less likely to cause serious side effects. 

Rheumatoid arthritis 

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that’s caused by your immune system mistakenly attacking the lining of your joints, creating inflammation. However, Celebrex cna reduce joint pain, swelling, and stiffness in people with RA. It is recommended that those with RA use Celebrex in conjunction with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), medications that can stop or slow the disease process in inflammatory arthritis. 

Ankylosing spondylitis 

Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis where there is bone fusion in the spine. Celebrex can reduce the pain and stiffness associated with this condition, helping to improve daily functioning in people with this condition. 

Menstrual cramps 

“Dysmenorrhea” is the medical term for pain that you have before or during your menstrual period. Celebrex can help with this type of pain and reduce painful menstruation symptoms. 

What are the side effects of Celebrex? 

Celebrex can cause both mild or severe side effects. While the following list contains some of the key side effects Celebrex can cause, if you have questions about how you will react to the medication, it’s always best to talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can also provide you with tips on how to deal with any side effects that may be bothersome. 

Mild side effects 

Mild side effects of Celebrex can include: 

  • diarrhea
  • indigestion
  • abdominal pain
  • nausea and vomiting
  • gas
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • upper respiratory infection, such as the common cold
  • swelling of hands and feet
  • sinusitis
  • weight gain 

Serious side effects 

Serious side effects from Celebrex are not common. However, if they do occur, you should contact your healthcare provider right away. 

Serious side effects of Celebrex include: 

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart failure and edema 
  • Hyperkalemia (high level of potassium in your blood)
  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Allergic reaction 
  • Serious skin reactions, such as a widespread itchy rash
  • Liver problems
  • Kidney problems 
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Digestive problems

What dosage will I be prescribed? 

The dosage of Celebrex your doctor will prescribe depends on several factors: 

  • the type and severity of the condition you’re using Celebrex to treat
  • your age
  • other medical conditions you may have
  • how well your liver works
  • how you respond to the first dose

In most cases, providers start by prescribing a low dose and adjust it over time until you find the dose that’s right for you. While Celebrex comes as a capsule that you swallow and is available in four different strengths: 50 mg, 100 mg, 200 mg, and 400 mg, the maximum dose that’s recommended is 400 milligrams (mg) twice a day. Your doctor will ultimately prescribe the smallest dosage that provides the desired effect. 

How do I take Celebrex? 

Take this medication as directed by your doctor. 

Before taking Celebrex, read the Medication Guide provided by your pharmacist, and contact your provider if you have any questions. For best results, you’ll want to take these pills at the same time every day. Celebrex can be taken with or without food. 

What if I miss a dose? 

If you miss a dose of Celebrex, take it as soon as you can. However, if it’s nearly time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose as prescribed. Do not take two doses together to make up for a missed dose. 

Is it safe to use other pain relievers during my Celebrex treatment? 

Some pain relievers are safe to take with Celebrex; others are not. For example, acetaminophen (Tylenol) and opioid pain relievers (including codeine, dihydrocodeine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone) are safe to take with Celebrex. 

However, you should avoid taking other NSAIDs with Celebrex, because Celebrex is an NSAID, and taking more than one NSAID can raise your risk of having certain side effects. 

NSAIDs to avoid while you’re taking Celebrex include:

  • ibuprofen 
  • diclofenac 
  • naproxen 
  • meloxicam 

Celebrex is helpful for many who experience pain and swelling from a number of different causes. If you or someone you love is suffering from an inflammatory condition, talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacists about Celebrex to see if the medication could be right for you. 


  • Kolata, G. (2016, November 13). Celebrex Is Found to Be No Riskier for Hearts Than Other Pain Drugs. The New York Times.
  • Zarghi, A., & Arfaei, S. (2011). Selective COX-2 Inhibitors: A Review of Their Structure-Activity Relationships. Iranian journal of pharmaceutical research : IJPR, 10(4), 655–683. 
  • Ricciotti, E., & FitzGerald, G. A. (2011). Prostaglandins and inflammation. Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology, 31(5), 986–1000. https://doi.org/10.1161/ATVBAHA.110.207449
  • Osteoarthritis (OA). (n.d.). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Diseases and Conditions Rheumatoid Arthritis. (n.d.). American College of Rheumatology.
  • Taking More Than One Anti-inflammatory Drug May Lead To Complications. (n.d.). ScienceDaily

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