COX-2 inhibitors — risks and alternative treatment options

COX-2 selective inhibitors are a type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that targets the cyclooxygenase (COX) enzyme that is responsible for muscle inflammation. As a result, COX-2 inhibitors may be recommended for patients suffering from arthritic pain, joint degeneration, spine pain and other types of inflammatory conditions. NSAIDs also can be taken along with pain medications like Tylenol for further pain relief.

However, COX-2 inhibitors do have a number of potentially serious side effects and this medication is not approved for all patients. COX-2 inhibitors vary in dosage and duration and are typically available in capsule form. This medication is usually recommended to patients who are experiencing severe pain from osteoarthritis. Read on to learn about the risks associated with COX-2 inhibitors as well as alternative treatment options for pain relief.

Risks of COX-2 inhibitors

The most significant risks associated with COX-2 inhibitors are cardiovascular in nature. In addition to transmitting pain and inflammation signals, the COX-2 enzymes (along with COX-1) are involved in the regulation of blood pressure in the body. As a result, COX-2 inhibitors have been known to lead to heart problems and shouldn’t be taken by anyone with a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or stroke.

COX-2 Inhibitors have also been somewhat controversial in recent years after an increased risk of heart attack and stroke was traced to a popular COX-2 inhibitor. Since then the warning labels on all NSAIDs have been strengthened. Other potential side effects associated with COX-2 inhibitors include:

  • Headaches
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble breathing
  • Edema
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Fluid retention
  • Ulcers

Alternatives to COX-2 inhibitors

To learn more about COX-2 inhibitors and determine whether they may be able to provide you relief from your neck and back pain, reach out to your doctor or pharmacist. Before any pain medication is prescribed, a full medical review will be required and your doctor will explain the potential benefits and risks of all of your options.

If you do not find relief after several weeks or months of taking COX-2 inhibitors or your condition worsens, your doctor may recommend surgery as an option. If this is the case for you, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how our minimally invasive spine surgery can help alleviate your symptoms. Our procedures offer a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck and back surgery^ and have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain.

The minimally invasive spine surgery performed at Laser Spine Institute use a less than 1-inch incision and muscle-sparing techniques in order to provide patients with lasting relief. Find out if you are a candidate for our outpatient procedures by reaching out to our dedicated team today and asking for a no-cost MRI review.* We can help you get back to the activities you love.