Common Uses Of Meloxicam – Introduction
Meloxicam is an anti-inflammatory and painkiller drug used for treating arthritis symptoms and postoperative pain in selected orthopedic surgeries.
Joint pain, stiffness, tenderness, or swelling are common manifestations associated with arthritis. A physical examination, X-rays, and lab tests help the doctor to confirm the diagnosis.
Osteoarthritis, or what is called “wear and tear” arthritis, is the most common form of arthritis, which affects over 32.5 million adults in the U.S. (1-2). It is a progressive condition that can limit daily activities. Among numerous painkillers you’ve heard of, meloxicam is an option that can help to relieve pain and reduce swelling.
Keep reading to learn about the risks of taking meloxicam and when you should consult your doctor. Understanding the disease and treatment options will help you to continue your life as actively as possible.
When Do Doctors Usually Prescribe Meloxicam?
Meloxicam is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) available in the U.S. since 2000. In contrast to other NSAIDs, meloxicam is available only by prescription.
Doctors prescribe meloxicam to treat the following conditions: (3)
1. Osteoarthritis (OA)
This is the most common form of arthritis. It can affect any joint, yet, most frequently affects the hands, hips, and knees. In people with OA, protective cartilage within the joint breaks down, and changes in the underlying bone occur. 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 can have pain, stiffness, and swelling, which tend to limit activities of daily living over time. The joint damage in OA is usually irreversible. However, physical activity, healthy weight maintenance, and medication treatments can slow 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. (4)
2. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
RA is a chronic inflammatory disease where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells. Joints are the primary place for this attack, commonly affecting the hands, wrists, and knees. If left untreated, RA can produce pain and swelling, resulting in bone erosion and joint deformity.
Unlike OA, RA can damage other body systems, such as the skin, eyes, heart, lungs, and blood vessels.
Doctors prescribe medications that slow disease progression and prevent joint deformity for RA treatment. Painkillers, such as meloxicam, can also be prescribed to ease symptoms. (5)
3. Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)
JIA happens to people younger than 16. As in RA, the immune system targets the lining of the joints, resulting in inflammation. JIA can affect one or more joints and also the eyes.
Unlike adults with OA and RA, treatment can protect joints from damage in young patients. For JIA treatment, doctors also prescribe medications that slow the process down. Meloxicam can relieve pain, tenderness, swelling, and stiffness in patients with JIA over two years of age. (6)
How Does Meloxicam Help In Arthritis?
Meloxicam blocks the enzymes necessary to produce prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are substances that play a role in pain, inflammation, and uterine contractions.
The body produces prostaglandins to coordinate different functions and can influence pain perception. For example, when there is a high level of prostaglandins in the body, they can cause prolonged inflammation and pain.
Meloxicam is a potent blocker of the cyclo-oxygenase enzymes (COX-1 and COX-2, primarily COX-2 selective) that are active in the production of prostaglandins. This mechanism means that meloxicam can reduce the effects of prostaglandins, relieving swelling, tenderness, stiffness, and joint pain in arthritis. (7, 8)
What Is The Recommended Dosage For Meloxicam?
For OA and RA, the recommended dose for starting and maintenance treatment is 7.5mg once daily. The dose can be doubled to 15mg but should not be exceeded. In children with JIA, the recommended daily dose depends on the weight, and it is 1.5mg (1mL of oral suspension) per each 12kg of weight. (3)
Are There Any Reasons Not To Use Meloxicam?
Meloxicam, like other NSAIDs, may cause increased cardiovascular and gastrointestinal risks, described in the warning section of the drug’s prescribing information.
Cardiovascular risk (9) – NSAIDs may cause increased heart and blood vessel clotting events, such as heart attack and stroke, which can be fatal. The longer the usage is, the higher the risk. Moreover, people with cardiovascular risk factors are more prone to these events. The following are some important cardiovascular risk factors:
- Tobacco smoking;
- High blood pressure;
- Diabetes Mellitus;
- High cholesterol levels;
- Overweight or obesity.
If you have any of these conditions or you have had any other heart or blood vessels problem, check with your doctor if NSAIDs are right for you.
Gastrointestinal risk – NSAIDs cause an increased risk of bleeding, ulceration, perforation of the stomach or 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. (3, 10)
You can always find the complete list of possible side effects in the Medication Guide (prescribing information); the most common are:
- Loose stools;
- Difficulty breathing;
- Nose, throat, or sinus infections;
- Indigestion, and
- Flu-like symptoms. (3)
Before Taking Meloxicam, Tell Your Doctor If:
- You are allergic to meloxicam, aspirin or other NSAIDs, sorbitol, or other medications.
- You use other medications or prescriptions, OTC supplements, or vitamins; meloxicam interacts with certain drugs.
- You are pregnant or breastfeeding; 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, which is present in oral tablets.
Meloxicam Vs. Ibuprofen
The table below compares ibuprofen and meloxicam, which you might find useful for understanding their differences and similarities.
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) (12)
The common cold
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)|
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are progressive diseases that cause joint inflammation and pain. While other recommended medications can slow the disease’s progression, meloxicam can be an effective treatment option for pain relief.
One tablet once a day can relieve the pain and inflammation. Learn about possible side effects and inform your doctor about the other medications you take or adverse events you might experience.
Although meloxicam can help you with the pain, follow your doctor’s recommendations about this or any other prescribed medication. Medical treatment and keeping physically active are the right approaches for maintaining a good quality of life in people with arthritis.