Suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis can have a sizable impact on a person’s quality of life, as these patients deal with daily, chronic pain.
More than 1.3 million Americans are affected by rheumatoid arthritis, including both adults and children; the disease is estimated to affect about one percent of the population worldwide.
Osteoarthritis is much more common, affecting approximately ten percent of men and thirteen percent of women aged 60 and older, making it the most common joint disease and the most common cause of total hip and total knee replacements in the United States.
Patients hoping to find relief from the pain associated with both conditions may be prescribed a medication called meloxicam, which is used for the daily management of rheumatoid arthritis in adults and children and osteoarthritis in adults.
What Is Meloxicam?
Meloxicam is a generic prescription medication that belongs to a class of drugs called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Other NSAIDs include over the counter medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, but meloxicam is only available in a prescription form due to its high dosage, potency, and potential for serious side effects. Meloxicam comes in the form of an oral suspension, oral tablets, and oral capsules.
The brand name forms of meloxicam include Mobic, Vivlodex, and Meloxicam Comfort Pac, all of which have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
What Is Meloxicam Used For?
The primary use of meloxicam is for the reduction of inflammation and swelling and management of pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis in adults and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in children.
A brief explanation of the conditions treated with meloxicam and their associated symptoms can be found below.
Unlike other forms of arthritis, which occur as a result of overuse of joints, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the joints, eyes, lungs, heart, skin, and blood vessels as the body attacks itself.
People with rheumatoid arthritis experience painful swelling in the lining of the joints that often lead to bone erosion and joint deformity over time.
The inflammation found in the joints is also found in other parts of the body, where it can cause more damage. Rheumatoid arthritis can be physically disabling in its severe forms. Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Tender, warm, swollen joints
- Joint stiffness that is worse in the mornings or following periods of inactivity
- Fatigue, fever, and loss of appetite
Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disorder, osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage that protects the ends of the bones wears down over time.
Osteoarthritis is more likely to affect those with joint injuries, older adults, obese individuals, and people with other conditions that place increased stress on the joints.
Most people experience osteoarthritis in the knees, spine, hips, and hands, but it can affect and cause damage to any joint.
Osteoarthritis causes irreversible damage, but medications like meloxicam, as well as lifestyle changes, can help manage the pain caused by the condition.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
- Grating, popping, or crackling sensation in affected joints
- Tenderness in affected joints
- Reduced flexibility in affected joints
- Bone spurs forming around affected joints
- Pain in affected joints during or after movement
- Stiffness upon waking or after periods of inactivity
- Swelling caused by soft tissue inflammation around the affected joint
How Does Meloxicam Treat Pain?
Meloxicam tablets treat pain by reducing inflammation in the body.
Prostaglandins, which cause inflammation, pain, and fever in the body, are produced in response to injury or illness; NSAIDs reduce the production of prostaglandins.
In addition to causing inflammation, pain, and fever, prostaglandins also help the kidneys function normally, protect the stomach lining and intestines from stomach acid, and aid in blood clotting by activating blood platelets. Two types of enzymes, COX-1 and COX-2, produce prostaglandins, so NSAIDs work by blocking the action of one or both of these enzymes.
Both COX-1 and COX-2 create prostaglandins that produce inflammation, pain, and fever, but the beneficial prostaglandins that protect the stomach and intestinal lining and promote blood clotting are only produced by COX-1.
Non-selective NSAIDs block the action of both COX-1 and COX-2, which also stops the prostaglandins from protecting the stomach and intestinal lining; this is the reason why many NSAIDs are known to cause gastrointestinal side effects.
Partially selective NSAIDs like meloxicam only block COX-2, which helps to prevent some gastrointestinal side effects.
What Are the Benefits of Using Meloxicam?
Some NSAIDs, including ibuprofen, are linked to an increased risk of heart attack when taken for an extended period of time, but meloxicam is less risky for people with heart conditions than other NSAIDs.
Meloxicam has fewer effects on the blood flow to the kidneys than other NSAIDs, which helps make it safer on the kidneys and better suited for use by patients with limited kidney function.
Unlike other pain management medications, meloxicam is not a narcotic and not an opioid, which helps reduce the likelihood that patients will become addicted to the medication or abuse it and also makes the drug a suitable choice for people with a history of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction who need to avoid medications that could cause dependence.
Meloxicam is produced by many different manufacturers in a variety of forms, making it highly affordable and covered by most insurance plans.
How Do I Know What Dose of Meloxicam I Should Take?
Adults with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis usually take an initial dose of 7.5 mg of meloxicam once per day.
Once your healthcare professional determines how your body reacts to meloxicam, the dose may be increased up to a maximum maintenance dose of 15 mg taken once per day. In order to minimize the occurrence of side effects, the lowest possible effective dose should be used.
In children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis who are two years of age or older, the maximum dose of meloxicam is 7.5 mg taken once per day.
Patients should communicate with their doctor or healthcare provider to ensure that they are taking the proper dosage of meloxicam.
What Side Effects Are Associated with Meloxicam?
Meloxicam has similar side effects to other NSAIDs, but adverse effects may be more noticeable because the prescription drug medication is taken at a higher dose.
Common side effects of meloxicam include:
- Upset stomach and abdominal pain
- Gas and bloating
- Weight gain
- Allergic reactions like skin rash and skin reactions like itching, hives, blistering, or swelling of the face, lips, or tongue
- Blood clots, as indicated by:
- Severe, sudden headache
- Pain, swelling or warmth in the arm or leg
- Changes in vision
- Chest pain or back pain
- Trouble speaking
- Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg
- Liver disease, as indicated by:
- Light-colored stools
- Loss of appetite
- Dark urine that is yellow or brown
- Flu-like symptoms such as sore throat
- Weakness, exhaustion, and tiredness
- Yellowing of the eyes or skin
- Right upper stomach pain
- Internal or external bleeding, as indicated by:
- Stomach pain
- Vomit that looks like coffee grounds
- Spitting up blood or brown material
- Red spots on the skin or other unusual bruising
- Bloody or black, tarry stools
- Red or dark brown urination
- Unusual bleeding from the eye, gums, or nose
- Stroke, as evidenced by:
- Trouble speaking or understanding
- Severe headaches
- Changes in vision
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg
- Loss of balance or coordination
- Trouble walking
- Trouble breathing/shortness of breath
What Drug Interactions Do I Need to Be Aware of?
Patients taking other NSAIDs, including aspirin, should not take meloxicam due to the combined risk factors and side effects of the medications.
Similarly, because meloxicam increases the risk of bleeding, particularly from the stomach, it should not be taken with other drugs that can cause an increase in bleeding, such as blood thinners or antiplatelet drugs.
Other medications known to interact with meloxicam include:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSNRIs)
- Blood pressure medications including angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), angiotensin-converting enzyme drugs (ACE inhibitors), beta-blockers
- Corticosteroids like prednisone
Who Should Not Take Meloxicam?
It is important to make your doctor aware of your complete medical history, including any other prescriptions or over-the-counter medications that you may be taking, before receiving a prescription for meloxicam, as some people may not be able to safely take the medication.
Providing them with all of your drug information is what helps them provide the best medical advice and to consider possible side effects. If you have heart failure, kidney problems, or kidney disease, you should not take meloxicam.
Additionally, meloxicam should not be used just before or after coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG surgery).
People who have a history of the following conditions should talk to their physicians about their medical history before taking meloxicam:
- Systemic mastocytosis
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Bleeding of the stomach or intestines
- Visible water retention
- Abnormal liver function
- Increased risk of bleeding due to a clotting disorder
- Increased risk of bleeding
- Increased cardiovascular event risk
- Aspirin exacerbated respiratory disease
- Chronic heart failure
- Blood clot
- Stomach or intestinal ulcer
- Gastrointestinal rupture
- Tobacco smoking
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