What is Meloxicam Used For?

What is Meloxicam Used For What is Meloxicam Used For

Common Uses of Meloxicam

Pain, stiffness, tenderness, or swelling are some symptoms that might be associated with arthritis. We usually perceive arthritis as a disease that happens to someone else until the symptoms occur. Physical examination, X-rays, and lab tests help the doctor to confirm the diagnosis.

For sure, it is not pleasant to hear that you have a progressive disease that will limit your routine day by day and causes pain that will not leave. You are not alone in this pain. Osteoarthritis, or what is called “wear and tear” arthritis, is the most common arthritis that affects over 32.5 million adults in the U.S. (1-2)

Among numerous painkillers you’ve heard of, meloxicam is an option that can help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. This article explains everything you need to know about this drug that doctors prescribe over 9 million times annually. (3)

Keep reading to learn the risks of meloxicam treatment and when you should consult the doctor. Understanding the disease and treatment options will help you to continue your life as actively as possible.

When Can Meloxicam Be Used?

Meloxicam is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that has been available in the U.S. since 2000. Ibuprofen and naproxen are also NSAIDs; however, while the last two medications are over-the-counter (OTC), meloxicam goes on a prescription only.

Doctors prescribe meloxicam to treat the following diseases: (4)

Osteoarthritis (OA) – this is the most common form of arthritis. It can affect any joint, yet, most frequently in the hands, hips, and knees. In people with OA, protective cartilage within the joint breaks down, and the changes in the bone begin. These degenerative changes happen slowly and worsen over time.

Age, joint injury, joint overuse, and obesity are some of the factors that may contribute to OA development.

Patients with OA have pain, stiffness, and swelling. OA limits the ability of some of them, so people cannot perform their daily activities as they used to. The damage to the joint is irreversible; however, physical activity, healthy weight maintenance, and medication treatments can slow down the disease progression.

When joint pain or stiffness occurs and doesn’t go away, it is time to see a doctor. Meloxicam is one of the treatment options for symptom reduction, primarily pain. (5-6)

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – RA is a chronic inflammatory disease where our immune system attacks healthy cells by mistake. Joints are the primary place for this attack, and the process happens to many simultaneously; hands, wrists, and knees are primary points. RA affects the lining of the joints that, causes pain and swelling, and can result in bone erosion and joint deformity.

Unlike OA, RA can damage other body systems, such as the skin, eyes, heart, lungs, and blood vessels.

For RA treatment, doctors prescribe medications that slow disease progression and prevent joint deformity. The treatment begins with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and biological response modifiers are second-line treatments. Still, severe RA can cause physical disabilities. For pain, meloxicam is one of the NSAIDs that can relieve pain efficiently.

Interestingly, women are more likely to develop RA than men, the same with OA. (7-8)

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) – JIA happens to people younger than 16. When the immune system doesn’t function, it targets the synovial membrane (the lining of the joints) and results in inflammation. JIA affects one or more joints but also the eyes.

Around 300,000 children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with JIA, which causes fevers or rashes.

Unlike adults with OA and RA, treatment can protect joints from damage in young patients. Proper treatment can control the symptoms, prevent joints from damage, and maintain function. For JIA treatment, doctors prescribe steroids and DMARDs. Physical activity and physical and occupational therapy are recommended too. Meloxicam can relieve pain, tenderness, swelling, and stiffness in patients over two years of age. (9)

How Does Meloxicam Help in Arthritis?

Meloxicam is NSAID that blocks the enzyme necessary to produce prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are substances in the body that play a role in pain, inflammatory pathways, and uterine constructions. These substances have hormone-like actions but are not hormones. While glands of the endocrine system release hormones, prostaglandins are made by tissues at the site of inflammation.

The body produces prostaglandins to coordinate different body functions and can influence pain perception. For example, they play an essential role in the normal inflammatory process in the body to protect from further damage. When there is an enormous amount of prostaglandins in the body, this causes prolonged inflammation and pain.

Meloxicam is a potent inhibitor of the cyclo-oxygenase enzyme (Cox-1 and Cox-2, primarily COX-2 selective) that is active in the synthesis of prostaglandins. When meloxicam inhibits the enzyme in the body, it blocks the prostaglandins synthesis from arachidonate. In this way, meloxicam reduces the swelling, tenderness, stiffness, and joint pain in arthritis. (10-11)


For OA and RA, the recommended dose for beginning and maintenance treatment is 7.5mg once daily. The dose can be doubled to 15mg but should not exceed. In children with JIA, recommended daily dose depends on the weight, and it goes 1.5mg (1mL of oral suspension) to each 12kg weight. (4)

When Shouldn’t Meloxicam Be Used?

Meloxicam, like other NSAIDs, may cause increased cardiovascular and gastrointestinal risks, described in the warning section of the prescribing information of the drug.

Cardiovascular risk – NSAIDs may cause increased cardiovascular thrombotic events, myocardial infarction, and stroke, which can be fatal. The longer the usage is, the higher the risk. Patients with risk factors or who have cardiovascular disease are at greater risk.

Gastrointestinal risk – NSAIDs cause an increased risk of bleeding, ulceration, perforation of the stomach intestine, and other serious gastrointestinal events. These side effects can occur anytime during the treatment without warning and can be fatal. Elderly people are at greater risk for serious adverse events. (4, 12)

You can always find the complete list of possible side effects in the Medication Guide (prescribing information); the most common are: diarrhea, dyspnea, upper respiratory tract infections, headache, dyspepsia, and influenza-like symptoms. (4)

Before taking meloxicam, tell your doctor if:

  • you are allergic to meloxicam, aspirin or other NSAIDs, sorbitol, or other medications;
  • you use other medications on prescription, OTC, supplements, or vitamins; meloxicam interacts with certain drugs; therefore, the dose should be adopted or, you should use another medication for your arthritis pain;
  • you are pregnant or breastfeed; meloxicam may harm the fetus;
  • you use meloxicam and are having surgery, including dental surgery;
  • you are fructose intolerant because fruit sugar can be found in sorbitol, present in the oral solution.

If you have a dilemma about what painkiller to use for your arthritis, the table below compares ibuprofen (available as OTS), and meloxicam (prescription-only medication) might help you.

Meloxicam Ibuprofen (14)
Usage Osteoarthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis

Minor pain of arthritis
Other usages Postsurgical analgesia after a bunionectomy, open inguinal herniorrhaphy, and total knee arthroplasty

(in combination with bupivacaine) (15)




Menstrual cramps

The common cold

Muscular aches

Temporary reduces fever

Administration Prescription only OTC and prescription
Dosage Once daily Every 4 to 6 hours
Knee and Hip Osteoarthritis


More effective than ibuprofen at the maximum recommended dose (13)
Side effects frequency: (4, 14)

Stomach pain







1.9 – 2.9

3.2 – 7.8

3.9 – 3.8

4.0 – 5.8

5.5 – 8.3

2.6 – 3.8

0.6 – 2.6

3 – 9

1 – 3

1 – 3

1 – 3

1 – 3

3 – 9

3 – 9


Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are progressive diseases that cause joints inflammation and pain. While other recommended medications can slow down the disease’s progression, meloxicam can be an effective treatment option for pain relief. Meloxicam is an effective option, yet the condition requires a doctor’s visit and prescription.

One tablet once a day can relieve the pain and inflammation you suffer. Learn about possible side effects and inform your doctor about the other medications you take or adverse events that you might experience.

Although meloxicam can help you with the pain, use regularly other medications that will slow disease progression. Medical treatment, together with keeping you physically active, is the right approach for maintaining the quality of life with arthritis.


1. Osteoarthritis, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 27, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/osteoarthritis.htm#:~:text=Osteoarthritis%20(OA)%20is%20the%20most,underlying%20bone%20begins%20to%20change.

2. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 27, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/rheumatoid-arthritis.html#:~:text=Rheumatoid%20arthritis%2C%20or%20RA%2C%20is,usually%20many%20joints%20at%20once.

3. Meloxicam, National Library of Medicine, January 10, 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK548278/

4. Mobic® (meloxicam) tablets and oral suspension, 3/2012, Prescribing information, https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2012/020938s022lbl.pdf

5. Osteoarthritis, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 27, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/osteoarthritis.htm#:~:text=Osteoarthritis%20(OA)%20is%20the%20most,underlying%20bone%20begins%20to%20change.

6. Osteoarthritis, Mayo Clinic, June 16, 2021, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoarthritis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351930

7. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 27, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/rheumatoid-arthritis.html#:~:text=Rheumatoid%20arthritis%2C%20or%20RA%2C%20is,usually%20many%20joints%20at%20once.

8. Rheumatoid Arthritis, Mayo Clinic, May 18, 2021, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/symptoms-causes/syc-20353648

9. Juvenile Arthritis, American College of Rheumatology, December 2021, https://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Juvenile-Arthritis

10. Prostaglandins, Cleveland Clinic, 11/04/2022, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/24411-prostaglandins

11. E. Ricciotti, Ph.D. and G.A. Fitzgerald M.D., Prostaglandins and Inflammation, Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. 2011;31:986–1000 https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/ATVBAHA.110.207449?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%20%200pubmed

12. Meloxicam, MedlinePlus, 3/15/2021, https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601242.html

13. B.R da Costa et al., Effectiveness and safety of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and opioid treatment for knee and hip osteoarthritis: network meta-analysis, BMJ. 2021; 375: n2321. Published online 2021 Oct 12. doi: 10.1136/bmj.n2321 PMCID: PMC8506236PMID: 34642179 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8506236/

14. Advil (ibuprofen) Product monograph, November 2018

15. Zinrelef (bupivacaine and meloxicam) extended-release solution, Prescribing information, May 2021,


See Also

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Is Tylenol A Blood Thinner?

Do Blood Thinners Make You Tired?

Is Ibuprofen a Blood Thinner?

Do Blood Thinners Decrease Blood Pressure?

Do Blood Thinners Affect Oxygen Levels?

What is Creatinine Level in Blood Tests?

About the Author

Biljana Srbinovska
Biljana is a Master of Pharmacy, with a Healthcare Management specialization. Over 20 years of professional engagement to enable access to innovative treatments for patients in need. Biljana is dedicated to upgrading health education evidence-based, promoting a healthy lifestyle, and embedding healthy habits.

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