Q. I took Celebrex for over 10 years for arthritis but it eventually lost effectiveness. My new insurance company would not cover Celebrex unless I tried three other medications: meloxicam, ibuprofen and naproxen.
My doctor suggested fish oil and it provided significant relief, about what I had experienced with Celebrex. Then I read your article about gin-soaked raisins and tried them too. I now have less joint pain and discomfort than I ever did with Celebrex.
A. Joint pain can be challenging because all the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs NSAIDs) that are prescribed have side effects. Ibuprofen, meloxicam and naproxen can be hard on the digestive tract, to put it mildly. They all have the potential to trigger life-threatening perforated ulcers.
Heart Hazards with NSAIDs
All these drugs you have mentioned, including Celebrex, may also raise blood pressure and increase the risk for cardiovascular complications. An analysis of data from Denmark confirmed this risk for all NSAIDs except naproxen (Annals of Internal Medicine, online Jan. 15, 2013). The FDA has not given naproxen a clean bill of health, however. As far as the FDA stands, all NSAIDs pose a risk of heart attacks and strokes. These potentially life-threatening reactions can occur within a few weeks of starting an NSAID. That is a high price to pay for relieving joint pain.
Another drug, prednisone, can cause insomnia, hypertension, diabetes, swelling, osteoporosis and cataracts.
Fish oil and gin-soaked raisins offer much less risk. Some people, like you, find they can be quite helpful.
We summarize the pros and cons of medications and offer details about many non-drug options in our Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis. In it, we also discuss other anti-inflammatory foods and spices, such as turmeric, tart cherries, boswellia, ginger, grape juice and pineapple to help ease joint pain.