If you watch television you have probably seen the current Celebrex commercial. It starts with a picture book of a woman sitting in a lounge chair at the beach waving to friends. The pages flip quickly as the voice-over says, “It’s simple physics. A body at rest tends to stay at rest while a body in motion tends to stay in motion. Staying active can actually ease arthritis symptoms.

It’s a compelling message and the attractive middle-aged woman is seen moving from the chair to water’s edge and then into the water. As she swims out to join her friends in an idyllic setting, the pages flip faster until you see her swimming full frame. There’s a boat and a beautiful dog that jumps off the boat and swims out to meet her. Everyone is having a fabulous time and the message seems to be that Celebrex will provide 24-hour relief from pain and inflammation so that you too could be moving easier, as active and happy as this woman. Just as the woman throws the ball to the gorgeous yellow Labrador retriever, the announcer starts sharing the following scary side effects:

“All prescription NSAIDs like Celebrex, ibuprofen, naproxen and meloxicam have the same cardiovascular warning. They all may increase the chance of heart attack or stroke, which can lead to death. This chance increases if you have heart disease or risk factors such as high blood pressure or when NSAIDs are taken for long periods.

“NSAIDs like Celebrex increase the chance of serious skin or allergic reactions or stomach and intestine problems such as bleeding and ulcers, which can occur without warning and may cause death.

“Patients also taking aspirin and the elderly are at increased risk for stomach bleeding and ulcers. Don’t take Celebrex if you have bleeding in the stomach or intestines or had an asthma attack, hives, other allergies to aspirin, NSAIDs or sulfonamides. Get help right away if you have swelling of the face or throat or trouble breathing.”

While this complicated message is rapidly being delivered, the woman and her companions are swimming, playing with the dog, smiling and generally having a wonderful time. We suspect that beautiful images tend to counteract worrisome messages. How can you take a warning that says “may increase the chance of heart attack or stroke which can lead to death” seriously when a dog is swimming towards you to retrieve a tennis ball and the woman is smiling?

You are told that serious skin or stomach problems “can occur without warning and may cause death.” Such complications are more likely to affect the very people who are targets of the commercial, the elderly and people with arthritis. These are individuals who are also more likely to have heart disease and high blood pressure, the very risk factors that make them vulnerable to a fatal drug reaction.

People with arthritis don’t just have pain and inflammation for a few days or weeks. This is a chronic condition, so the warning that heart attack or stroke are more likely if drugs like Celebrex (NSAIDs) are “taken for long periods of time” seems inadequate. The very people who are likely to take such drugs for long periods of time are then put at greater risk for a deadly drug reaction.

It turns out that Celebrex is related to the arthritis drug Vioxx that was removed from the market because it led to thousands of heart attacks. The makers of Celebrex are being very transparent and telling people up front that this is a real risk. We wonder, though, whether viewers are paying careful attention. Airing such a commercial over and over costs tens of millions of dollars. It must be paying off. According to industry insiders, Celebrex took in nearly $2 billion last year, making it one of Pfizer’s biggest sellers.


  • Digestive upset, abdominal pain, heartburn, diarrhea, nausea, gas, constipation, reflux, gastritis,
  • Headache, dizziness, vertigo, back pain
  • Sore throat, runny nose, sinusitis, upper respiratory tract infection
  • Skin rash (this is a serious symptoms and must be reported to a doctor immediately!)
  • Irregular heart rhythms, palpitations
  • High blood pressure, chest pain (angina)
  • Fluid retention, swelling of hands or feet
  • Hearing difficulties, tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Liver or kidney function changes (abnormal lab results), kidney damage, liver damage
  • Sensitivity to sunlight (sunburn)
  • Ulcers, bleeding ulcers, perforated ulcers (a potentially life-threatening complication)
  • Heart attack, stroke
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Allergic reaction, difficulty breathing
  • Blood disorders, blood clots, pulmonary embolism, anemia


No one should ever take any other medications with Celebrex without double-checking with the prescriber and the pharmacist. Here are just a few drugs that may cause complications when combined with Celebrex:

  • Aspirin and other NSAIDs (such as diclofenac, ibuprofen, naproxen)
  • Anticoagulants (such as warfarin, known by the brand name Coumadin)
  • Lithium
  • Blood pressure drugs such as ACE inhibitors or ARBs
  • Fluconazole
  • Furosomide (Lasix)
  • Methotrexate

As appealing as the Celebrex commercials may be, we think that NSAIDs should be reserved as a last resort for pain and inflammation and should be used intermittently rather than daily. Here are some natural approaches for controlling pain and inflammation:

  • Turmeric (curcumin)
  • Tart cherry juice or cherry concentrate
  • Pomegranate juice
  • Almonds
  • Olive oil
  • Walnuts
  • Blueberries
  • Salmon
• Bluefish
  • Ginger
  • Vitamin D
  • Gin-soaked raisins
  • Certo & grape juice
  • Apple cider vinegar, apple & grape juice
  • Boswellia
  • Fish oil & green-lipped mussels
  • Acupuncture

  To learn more about how to use such foods and remedies we offer our People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. You can also learn more in our Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis. Please share your own experience with arthritis remedies below. How have such approaches worked for you? Has Celebrex or other NSAIDs been helpful without causing side effects? Share your own story in the comment section. Here are just a few reader reactions:

“I have used Vioxx in the past and currently use Celebrex occasionally. I also suffered a heart attack. Was it a result of taking these drugs? I don’t know but all drugs I see advertised carry a similar if not identical warning. Some are even more ominous. “My conclusion is that anyone can have a adverse reaction to any drug but the majority will not and the manufacturers are simply trying to avoid lawsuits by giving these warnings which put the onus on the users to prove they were not aware of the possibility of any adverse reaction even if it had nothing at all to do with the drug.” P. M.

“Just endorsed my belief that these drugs that they are touting as the next best thing since sliced white bread (also not good for you) are crazy. “Have you heard the caveats that come with most of the drugs that are on the market? To me the side effects are worse than the symptoms of the diseases and some of the diseases are bad enough. I am going as natural as possible and really don’t think that I will be any worse off than if I take the drugs. “I think that the worst ones are the ones that seem to compromise your immune system or that say they can cause cancer. Really? I want that in my system WHY?” Bobbie

“Yes, this ad is pretty amazing. If you die after taking Celebrex I guess they can say to the family, ‘we warned you.’ “Another ad running concurrently is for Nexium, telling us that our doctor is the expert and to listen to the doctor. Of course, the only thing the doctor ‘knows’ about reflux is what the drug rep has told him/her. I am the expert on MY body, and although there are times when my doctor has helped a lot, he is not infallible.” D.S.

“My thought is that many people ignore the risks because they believe them to be very rare. These types of warnings should come with the likelihood of adverse effects to allow the user to make an informed choice.” Modena

“My older sister took Celebrex for awhile and went into total liver failure. She turned yellow and swelled up. The doctors in the hospital finally figured out it was the Celebrex and stopped it. She did recover eventually but liver failure is another side effect.” R.D.W.

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  1. Jen
    Baddeck, Canada

    I took celebrex from 1995-2016. It gave me great relief from arthritis and injuries pain. When I read online about the issue of ‘systemic inflammation’ -which is caused by pharmaceuticals leading to abundant cortisol in the body, a hormone imbalance which leads to such things as weight gain and insomnia, I pinpointed the array of prescribed drugs I took to ameliorate pain.
    I quit them all except morphine, which is almost natural. It is not completely synthetic but actually originates in a flower pistil. Such things as tylenol 3 are actually harder on the body than morphine.

    Anyhow, I went off them all at new year 2016. I had about 2 months of no sleep and great pain. I substituted huge amounts of turmeric, which is actually more effective than the expensive capsules of it which I have bought. It must be that the bulk product is moved off the shelves at a greater rate, resulting in a fresher product. A heaping large teaspoon of it mixed with black pepper (Turmeric is better absorbed with the pepper) brings great relief from the weather-barometric pressure influenced increased pain. I can tell a snow storm is coming, or rain, many days in advance, and more morphine makes no appreciable difference ! I also take a lot of fresh garlic and ginger in masses as tea. Quit sugar altogether. W,ell I have a clean diet & nightshades are not my issue. I eat well but the weight piled on regardless.

    Yesterday my doc Rx’d celebrex again, and I took it just to try it out. I have had massive new shoulder pain all the past 6 months without any diagnosis nor cure on the horizon..
    All chronic pain -non cancer type -in Nova Scotia-are being tapered in their narcotic dosages- without consideration- we are all being pushed onto medical marijuana to fill in for the opiates and opiodes which are currently being demonized because of accidental deaths of recreational users-
    – I haven’t heard of one death from opiates taken by a pain patient taking it daily as prescribed -yet we are all being treated as though any other (harmful chemical or marijuana) can fill in- for the lack of narcotic to ease the pain we have
    Well a lot of the pain I had before starting the celebrex yesterday is gone..but I have had severe gut pain and discomfort – sort of changeable locations but really uncomfortable – and I have had trouble staying awake today- reading this link has reminded me of why I quit Celebrex and I will immediately return to natural methods to ease my pain..I am no younger and the effects of this drug are often irreversible
    -A doctor friend Larry Rosen said an immortal thing – ” there are no ‘side effects’ ,only effects “…
    …and I started reading this link to discover ,if I could, what a perforated stomach feels like – I think I might have one !

  2. Anna

    I took Celebrex for poly-osteoarthritis for many years and found that it was causing me to become unsteady when I walked. I fell over frequently, and ended up breaking my arm.
    I also had chest pain and an unstable blood pressure whilst taking it. Now, I just take natural products, am virtually pain-free …..and haven’t fallen over since stopping it nearly a year ago.

    One should never take Turmeric with Celebrex .It’s contraindicated.I mixed them and felt quite strange and unwell and after checking online discovered one shouldn’t take both at the same time.

    With osteoarthritis it’s sometimes a good idea to be checked for Lyme disease.After having 2 knee replacements at 50 I believe that I have unknowingly had it for many years ,and that it has caused a lot of my medical problems including what was ‘believed’ to be poly-osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia.

  3. Jenny

    After Saturday evening I decided to quit Celebrex after 5 years due to not being sure I really needed it, especially being 67 due to the age contraindications, and taking one baby aspiring in the evening as a blood thinner. Four days later (today) I woke near 3am with terrible gut pain, first constipation, then diarrhea. When I woke again around 7a.m. that was the worst: horrible pain in both my shoulders like never before which wasn’t there during the recent bathroom trips. Could not even get properly dressed for hours.

    Now, about 8 hours later, the pain is gone like it never happened with ROM again complete. in one arm while my other arm still hurts. Funny, the painless one that’s completely fine now had a break near the shoulder in 1995, then within 10 years, I tore the rotator cuff shoveling snow. The arm that had never been injured is the one still aching! It must be the Celebrex because the only other Rx I take is oxybutynin (generic for Detrol).

  4. Laura
    Syracuse, NY

    I have taken Celebrex for over 10 years. Prior to surgery, I needed to stop taking the drug for it has blood thinning properties. I didn’t feel I had “withdrawal symptoms,” but rather the pain and suffering I endured before taking the drug returned. They are not the same thing. Any chemical substance we put into our bodies comes with risks and benefits. The benefits of Celebrex far outweigh the risks. Celebrex does not completely remove osteoarthritis pain.

    It relieves the inflammatory response from having osteoarthritis and thus pain lessens. You still need to eat sensibly and continue to exercise to be on the road to wellness. There is no cure for arthritis yet and over time it does get worse and becomes grossly disabling. You make the decision. Doctors and manufacturers warn you of what “might” possibly happen as well. We all have different DNA’s and react to drugs differently. Use common sense and never take more of the Celebrex than what is prescribed by your doctor. I take the lowest dose and can function well and have a quality of life. Celebrex itself is not addicting.

  5. JLM
    New York

    I had mucinous ovarian carcinoma – Had a complete abdominal hysterectomy. I did not receive chemo – instead I was given Celecoxib capsules – 200MG twice a day. Did anyone else have this treatment for ovarian cancer or did anyone hear of this?

  6. Brian

    I took Celebrex for arthritis pain for 3 years. Worked fine but I was hospitalized in April 2024 with esophageal bleeding. Doctor took me off Celebrex, thinking it might be the cause of the bleeding. He was right…as of May, 2017 no repeat of bleeding problems. I wouldn’t touch this stuff.
    Between NSAIDS and statins, I’m very suspicious of most drugs.

  7. Jacqueline

    I had a vein ablation and after a few months the vein was still hardened and tender, so my doc wanted me to take ibuprofen round the clock for 2 weeks. I could not because of preexisting stomach ulcers, so we decided on celebrex instead because its supposed to be easier on your stomach. Ive been having chest heaviness and feel like im skipping breaths, and not sleeping which feels like a constant panic attack. I couldnt take it anymore so I went to the ER where they ran tests and concluded it was the Celebrex. Such a scary feeling. My O2 levels were fine but I dont feel like im getting air. I will never take Celebrex again.

  8. jennifer

    I was prescribed the genetic celebrex for inflammation around my heart. At first it worked well. The chills and temperatures went after 6 weeks but a few weeks more I started to get severe pain in my chest, trouble breathing and very very bad indigestion problems. I was also diagnosed with coronary heart disease. I Googled celebrex to find people shouldn’t take it if you have CHD so I have stopped 2 days ago and have vibrations in my body like withdrawals. I’ll never go back on it. I feel it’s to dangerous.

  9. Andrew

    The reason u are having difficulty moving is not because nsaids are addicting. Nsaids were the only thing keeping u moving despite the crippling arthritis. When I went for a disability exam I quit taking all pain pills for 2 weeks to get a true reading.

    I was like a very old man!at the age of 62. I even developed a limp!! I did not cheat to get disability. I simply quit masking the severity. If u cannot move without medication, u are clinically disabled. My poor mother is so severe and she cannot take painkillers due to congestive heart failure. She has gnarls and bumps on all her fingers from the arthritis.

  10. Charlene
    upstate NY

    I have been taking a anti-inflammatory for osteoarthritis for about 5 years. At first, it was Methotrexate and within the last 6 months I have been taking the generic form of Celebrex. I am having a total knee replacement soon and my Dr. recommended I stop taking it 1 week prior to surgery. It has been 4 days without it now.I could hardly get out of bed today and my whole body is aching. My hands are so stiff I can hardly type. Absolutely, Celebrex is addicting and I wil never take it again.

  11. Flash

    I have been on Celebrex for many years, since it came out. IT IS ABSOLUTELY ADDICTING!!!! I have tried many times to stop it but in as little as 4 days I can hardly walk. I’m 64yrs old. After being on it for so long it is starting to really scare me. I have no side effects while taking it. I stopped it this past Dec. 13th and thought I would try Turmeric and that Bosweilei supplement. It was the pure Organic Turmeric, not anything cheap. By the 5th day after no Celebrex I could barely walk (have severe OA in my knees) but not only that, my lower back hurt so badly I couldn’t stand up straight. About a year ago I suffered a pinched nerve in my neck. Well that also came back in full force. I took strong prescription pain pills but it did not touch what was going on with me. It (all the pain) got so bad I vomited. I know EXACTLY what it was because it happened before. I was crying, it was 2am and I knew what I had to do. I took my 200mg Celebrex and within an hr and a half my pain was decreased by at least 65%. Now here I am 4days later, back on my Celebrex and I’m back to feeling normal again. I still have the usual knee pain, the back pain and neck pain is at a minimal as usual. Don’t even try to tell me Celebrex isn’t addicting!!!! I’ve tried to stop Celebrex several times over the years and all with the same result as I just described, but I guess now that I am getting older it is by far worse. I even had a reaction after several weeks when I was put on the generic celecoxib (the pharmacy just switched it w/o my knowledge) so there is something missing in that drug because I cannot take that either, I had to go back on the regular Celebrex. I even called Pfizer about it and they said sometimes the generic may have just a little something different in it like the gel or filler. I don’t know but I AM ADDICTED TO CELEBREX WIThOUT A DOUBT!!!! I just hope it doesn’t eventually kill me. All blood work and urinalysis’ are fine for now!!! I think I would have to be hospitalized to get off of Celebrex, no joke!!!! Ps: My doctor said I could stop taking it at anytime, no problem. It’s all very, very sad!!!!

  12. Ginny

    It is important to be informed and pro-active when it comes to decisions regarding your health. I have recently experienced 2 months of intense pain in 5 of my joints. Evidently, I became pretty useless in my daily activities. My Doctor suggested switching to another anti-inflammatory and suggested Celebrex. After discussing it with my doctor, I went home and did my homework. I have none of the pre-existing conditions described in the Celebrex warnings and decided to give it a try.

    It took 3 days of Celebrex to get my life back. The pain has become tolerable and I no longer need help getting out of bed, getting dressed and brushing my teeth. Consequently, my morale is definitely up where it should be and I should now be able to reverse the muscle atrophy that came along with inactivity. The constant pain really takes a toll on you, and in my case, the benefits outweigh the risks. Now we can focus on treating the cause of my joint issues in order to stop taking Celebrex.

  13. Rita

    I have been taking celebrex for back pain occasionally and noticed that I have been getting chest pains. Was even scared to go to bed as I live alone worried I was going to have a heart attack.

    Well I did not have a heart attack but I got up, in the middle of the night with a tummy ache and while I was on the toilet I also vomited. It was scary. I became flushed in the face and felt very unwell and upset.
    I was ok the next day, and I’m not sure what happened that day but this is the second time in my life that this happened to me.

    I am now blaming the celebrex because yesterday I needed to take one and I got chest pain again. Not taking any more.

  14. heather

    i was given celebrex for severe menstrual pain, along with oxycodone and acetominophen. i have taken the celebrex for 4 days and have experienced unremitting nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. i thought it was the menstrual pain, or maybe a stomach flu. but i am stopping all the meds immediately and seeing if it goes away. despite my having a sensitive stomach, doc did not mention any of the side effects to me. hopefully the nausea and severe vomiting will go away. i am also stopping the oxycodone.

  15. Ol

    I stopped Celebrex a few days ago. I am itching terrible did anyone else have these symptoms? I feel like something is biting me.

  16. Daisy
    Kissimmee, Florida

    Hi, So here is my story. I hurt my foot when I sprained my ankle badly, also injuring my 5th metatarsal. Podiatry sent me a script for Celebrex. I took a couple as prescribed and then stopped it due to the acid reflux. I know for a fact I wasn’t on any other meds. And further, it’s been months since taking any Tylenol 3 or anything of that nature. I woke up in full withdrawal from the celebrex. So much to the point that I was wondering and checking anything I could have taken. There was nothing other than the celebrex. I had even blamed my issues on drinking coffee but that is only once a day. Also, I know what withdrawal feels like bec I had the same issue when I once took Tramadol for pain. Never in my life did I imagine that a non narcotic could give you withdrawal. I even thought to just take celebrex to calm this all down and then I thought that’s exactly addiction behavior. So forget it. I won’t take this Celebrex ever again and nor should anyone. Withdrawal is horrible. Now to take something to counteract these symptoms… anything natural. Good luck with your pain management but be careful and be forewarned…

    • Ryan

      It was 110% not celebrex that caused you some “withdrawal” symptoms. Firstly, there is nothing addictive in celebrex. Secondly, you only took them for 3 days… You wouldnt even get withdrawal symptoms from taking oxycodone for 3 days let alone celebrex. So telling people not to take it is uneducated and baseless.

  17. Anil K.

    I’ve just come off Celebrex (three days ago) after taking it for 6 months. Since stopping it I have started getting blinding headaches. Is that a normal withdrawal symptom? I would be really grateful for some feedback.

  18. captainhurt

    You know there is a middle ground between dangerous doses and none-at-all.
    “A lot of pain” is a major problem and perhaps you can find a balance of risk/benefit.

  19. Shirley

    I was prescribed Fosomax without the doctor consulting me and discussing the side effects. He merely mailed me a copy of a lab report that said I was borderline for osteoarthritis. I received the drug in the mail and read the potential side effects which are terrifying. What kind of medicine are doctors practicing these days?

  20. Bill

    In addition to natural anti-inflammatory foods, etc., which certainly help, you didn’t mention foods to avoid. I used to have horrible knee pain and used some of the suggestions on this website. I then gave up the nightshade family (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers & white potatoes) and my symptoms disappeared. I play tennis and dance regularly without pain or the need to use other measures to control the pain.

  21. PJD

    I know all those interactions can happen and by law they must tell you all that. But I find they scare a lot of people away from using these drugs that help. I have taken celebrex on and off for about 12 years and have never had any problem with it. I am on it pretty steady for the last 6 months because of severe arthritis. Both hips & knees were replaced because of the arthritis. Celebrex has been the only thing that helps relieve my pain and inflammation. Just be aware of the problems that could occur.

  22. GHG

    We mute the TV for all pharmaceutical drug dealer commercials, in our home. As a rule of thumb, as consumers, we should demand to know why is it that we spend so much money for health care in America but have such poor health outcomes?
    The financial conflicts of interest in our system should have us all outraged. The focus on selling drugs that do so much harm is shameful.

  23. ABA

    I was on Celebrex and other NSAIDs for many years, possibly 20. I also took Zantac routinely to counteract the heartburn.
    I have ended up with atrial fibrillation. I recently had a TIA [transient ischemic attack or mini-stroke] at which time the doctors put me on blood thinners.
    It took two weeks to overcome the withdrawal from the Celebrex. Now I’m off all NSAIDs and no longer need any antacids. However, I’m having a lot of pain with arthritis.

  24. Donnie

    I have Post-polio Syndrome [PPS], and know a lot of other people who also have it. Over the years, many of them have suddenly dropped dead from a massive coronary. They were all taking Celebrex or Vioxx. I have never taken either of them for the nerve and muscle pain from PPS. I can ‘live’ without them.

  25. Nancyh

    I was switched to Celebrex when Vioxx was taken off the market.
    Also not mentioned in the warning is that it can be “addictive,” almost impossible to stop. I belong to an online support group of hundreds of people trying to wean off Celebrex. I have never experienced any of the dire side affects but I would like to stop taking it before I do.

    • Mike

      How do you properly stop taking Celebrex without going through the possible side effects?

      I was taking 2 caps a day for almost 4 months. I decided to try getting off of Celebrex. I took my regular prescription every 2nd day for a week. Then I stopped taking it. Now, I’m getting sharp pains in the side of my head. Don’t know how long this will last or what I should do.

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