Because Celebrex may not be suitable for everyone, several alternatives to the medication are available. Some alternatives to Celebrex include other medications (such as Tylenol or ibuprofen). Non-medication options include exercise, surgery, and alternative therapies (such as acupuncture or TENS). Talk to your healthcare provider about possible alternatives if this medication is not working for you.
Celebrex® (celecoxib) is a prescription medication licensed to treat several conditions related to pain and inflammation. It is part of a class of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs for short. Celebrex is a specific type of NSAID known as a COX-2 inhibitor. It is the last COX-2 inhibitor left on the market, as the others have been withdrawn due to safety concerns. With no other COX-2 inhibitors available, alternatives to Celebrex are limited to other types of medications or treatments.
Some of the possible substitutes include:
- Other medications
- Non-medication pain relief options, such as:
- Exercise and weight control
- Alternative therapies.
Many people consider switching to a Celebrex alternative because they are concerned about the possible risks of using COX-2 inhibitors. Often, people assume that other NSAIDs (including non-prescription NSAIDs) are safer. However, it is important to remember that all NSAIDs have been linked to cardiovascular events, such as heart attack or stroke, which can result in loss of life (see NSAIDs Warnings and Precautions). In addition, other NSAIDs may have a higher risk of side effects, such as indigestion or abdominal pain (stomach pain), compared to Celebrex. Many of these other NSAIDs are not as expensive as Celebrex. Those that can be used instead of Celebrex include but are not limited to:
- Ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®)
- Naproxen (Naprosyn®) or naproxen sodium (Aleve®, Anaprox®, Naprelan®)
- Diclofenac (Voltaren®, Cataflam®)
- Etodolac (Lodine®, Lodine® XL)
- Meloxicam (Mobic®)
- Indomethacin (Indocin®)
- Nabumetone (Relafen®).
Aspirin is a similar alternative, although it also has risks, such as the risk of bleeding (especially bleeding in the digestive tract). If you and your healthcare provider decide that NSAIDs are not a good choice for you, other medications can be used as alternatives to Celebrex, such as:
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol®)
- Opiates and narcotics, such as morphine, codeine, or hydrocodone
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
- Biologic response modifiers.
Tylenol, Opiates, or Narcotics
These medications are effective at treating pain, but they are often not useful for treating the inflammation that causes pain. When used as directed, Tylenol is a safe medication, although it may not be recommended for people who have liver disease or who regularly drink alcohol. Opiates and narcotics are often effective, but they have the potential to be abused. However, in many situations, long-term opiate or narcotic use can be appropriate, safe, and effective.