Celebrex Benefits an Old, Arthritic Spine
A 76 year old woman came into see me recently about her painful low back. Despite multiple injections done by another physician, she was still having trouble standing and walking. Some of the pain radiated into her leg, but most of the pain was centered near the lower lumbar spine. After spending some time with her, I determined that most of her pain was caused by arthritic joints, the facet joints, in her spine. This widowed woman just wanted to be able to continue living independently in her own home without being crippled by low back pain. The gabapentin (Neurontin) prescribed by her primary physician was easing the leg pain caused by spinal stenosis. However, a majority of pain was still coming from her spine. So I reached into my bag of doctor tools and pulled out some samples of celecoxib (Celebrex).
What better way to relieve pain from an arthritic joint than using an anti-inflammatory medication like celecoxib. After using this medication consistently for a couple of weeks, this woman is grateful to be free from debilitating pain and grateful for a more active life. Why did I choose this one particular medication over all others? Keep reading and learn more about the benefits of Celebrex for an old spine.
- Easier on the Stomach: Unlike all the other anti-inflammatory medications on the market, Celebrex is easier on the stomach. As a member of a special class of medications called the COX-2 inhibitor, celecoxib blocks the inflammation pathway without increasing stomach acid production.
- No Blood Thinning Effect: Another benefit of Celebrex is the fact that it does not increase the risk of bleeding by interfering with platelet function. For this reason, Celebrex is safe to use shortly before and after a surgery. In fact, the perioperative use of celecoxib has been proven to reduce the need for opioids after surgery. Furthermore, many elderly people are already taking a blood-thinning medication including aspirin, so adding traditional anti-inflammatory medication that increases the risk of bleeding is not a good idea. That’s why my choice will always be Celebrex in the elderly.
- Maintains Independence: Let’s face it; no one wants to end up in a care facility depending on others for help. In order to live independently at home, one must be able to do certain daily living activities like getting dressed, bathing, food preparation and some light cleaning. Anti-inflammatory medications like Celebrex help the elderly stay in the comfort of their own home because it controls the pain from arthritic joints.
- Minimal Cognitive Side Effects: Some medication can cause a great deal of drowsiness, dizziness and confusion. All of these cognitive side effects can be disastrous in an elderly person because of these effects can increase the risk of falling or incurring other accidents. Celebrex does not mess with the mind. Celebrex helps people relieve pain while maintaining a clear head.
Of course, the use of Celebrex is not without risk. There is a slight risk of increasing the work load on the heart and increasing the blood pressure. But for someone at the end of their life who just wants to relieve the pain enough to maintain their independence, these minor risks might be acceptable. Because Celebrex minimizes the major risks of stomach ulcers, bleeding and falling, Celebrex used once daily is just what this doctor orders for an old, arthritic spine.
Christina Lasich, M.D., wrote about chronic pain and osteoarthritis for HealthCentral. She is physiatrist in Grass Valley, California. She specializes in pain management and spine rehabilitation.