Celecoxib is a medication from Pfizer. It is an active ingredient in Celebrex, Celebra, and Onsenal. It’s one of a new generation of pain and inflammation medication called a selective COX-2 inhibitor, or a coxib, and is one of the few drugs in the group that is still in regular use.

It belongs to a larger group of medicines called NSAIDs (short for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Other well-known examples of NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Celecoxib was developed as a more selective drug to get similar effects without the same serious side effects of NSAIDs.

Click here to learn more about NSAIDs: What are NSAIDs?


Celecoxib is the intellectual property of the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, so it is only available as one of their trademarked medications: Celebrex, Celebra, and Onsenal. These medications all need prescriptions.

Celecoxib Dosage

Celecoxib is most often prescribed in dosages of 100 mg to 200 mg per day. That may in a single dose or spread over two doses.

For certain conditions dosages of up 400mg a day may be prescribed. As a prescription medication only, it’s important to follow directions of the prescribing doctor when taking celecoxib.

Celebrex, a commonly prescribed anti-inflammatory containing celecoxib, is always taken orally as a pill.  These pills might individually contain 50 mg, 100 mg, 200 mg, or 400 mg of active celecoxib.

Common Uses of Celecoxib


Celecoxib is sometimes prescribed for acute pain, especially in adults. The medication is also an effective anti-inflammatory medication, so it’s often used with pain associated with injury or other sources of swelling. It some cases, it may also be used to combat severe chronic pain and swelling, especially on an as-needed basis.

Menstrual Pain

In severe cases of menstrual pain, some doctors may prescribe celecoxib. It can be effective at relieving the pain and some of the swelling and puffiness common to menstrual discomfort.


NSAIDs in general have often been prescribed for osteoarthritis. They help deal with the pain and swelling resulting from the condition’s effects on the joints. Celecoxib is no exception, and it is frequently prescribed for serious cases of osteoarthritis to cope with the more uncomfortable symptoms.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Often resulting in painful swelling to the joints, the immediate symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are often treated with NSAIDs like celecoxib. The action of celecoxib often relieves the inflammation and eases the pain common to joint problem.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Also a joint condition, ankylosing spondylitis, affects the bones in the spine, most commonly near where they joint the pelvis. The resulting pain and inflammation is often treated with medications like celecoxib and other NSAIDs.

Familial Adenomatous Polyposis

This inherited condition is one where small growths called polyps form in the large intestine (or colon). Though the polyps are generally benign, they can become a malignant colon cancer if they aren’t treated. Celecoxib has been shown to treat these polyps, and it is often prescribed to combat this disease, instead of the pain or swelling celecoxib is typically used to treat.

Click here to learn more about other Uses of NSAIDs.

Side Effects of Celecoxib

Celecoxib is a recently developed anti-inflammatory medication. It was developed to more specifically affect cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) without affecting other hormones. COX-2 is one of the body’s chemicals which causes inflammation and pain. COX-2 inhibitors (coxibs) like celecoxib target only this hormone in the hope that it will reduce many of the other adverse reactions of other NSAIDs, especially the potential discomfort or damage to the stomach and intestines.

Coxibs were only partly effective in reducing the adverse effects of other NSAIDs on the gastrointestinal tract. Clinical studies have shown that adverse reactions to the digestive system are reduced over the short term (approximately the first six months of treatment). These same studies found that over a longer period (after a year or so), celecoxib still has negative effects on the stomach and intestines at about the same rate as other NSAIDs.

Negative side effects occur in 0.1% to 1.9% of the people treated with the drug.

The most common side effect of celecoxib was headache. Also common were problems associated with the digestive system including:

  • upset stomach
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal pain
  • nausea
  • gas

In certain very severe case, NSAIDs like celecoxib can cause ulcers to form in the stomach or intestines. These ulcers can be quite severe and lead to significant bleeding. Seek medical attention immediately if you exhibit any of these signs:

  • vomiting with blood in the vomit
  • vomiting with the vomit looking like coffee grounds
  • blood in the stool after a bowel movement
  • dark black stool after a bowl movement

These signs are all indicators of bleeding somewhere in the digestive system, and they are very dangerous. So are any signs of allergic reaction, which may include:

  • swelling of the lips, tongue or throat
  • rashes or itchiness
  • difficulty breathing

Should you have any allergic reaction, stop taking the new medication and see a doctor right away.

NSAIDs in general also carry an increased risk of developing heart disease. The only exception to his is aspirin, which is often used as a preventative treatment among people with existing heart disease or are at risk of developing heart disease. Celecoxib is generally a considered higher risk drug among those with heart disease, but there is still some controversy about whether or not it is more dangerous than other NSAIDs.

Doctors tend to be cautious with celecoxib because the closely related drug rofecoxib (Vioxx) has been removed from the market for having an increase risk of fatal heart conditions. Be sure to inform your doctor if you have a heart condition or a family history of heart disease before taking celecoxib. Research is currently underway to establish the link.

Long-term use of celecoxib or other NSAIDs does increase the risk of potentially dangerous heart conditions such as the following:

  • hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • heart attack
  • stroke

For more information about common side-effects of NSAIDs, click the following link: NSAIDs side effects

Celecoxib Brand Names

Celecoxib is only available as a brand name.  There is no generic celecoxib.

Celebra, Celebrex, Onsenal (Pfizer)