Meloxicam is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) commonly used for the treatment of rheumatological and osteoarticular conditions. Many patients who use meloxicam have doubts about its effects on the liver, kidneys, interactions with food and alcoholic beverages.
This article provides important information about how to take meloxicam correctly, its risks and benefits.
What is Meloxicam?
Meloxicam belongs to the NSAID class, as do ibuprofen, aspirin, ketoprofen and others. Therefore, you should not take other NSAIDs together with meloxicam, especially without medical advice.
Meloxicam is typically prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and other joint inflammation. It can also be used for acute pain in certain syndromes.
How does Meloxicam work?
The mechanism of action of meloxicam, like that of other NSAIDs, consists of inhibiting the enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX) and, consequently, blocking the arachidonic acid cascade, preventing the release of prostaglandins that are related to pain and inflammation. This inhibition of COX by meloxicam is reversible, unlike what occurs with acetylsalicylic acid.
By inhibiting COX and blocking pro-inflammatory prostaglandins, meloxicam exerts its analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. It is effective in relieving mild to moderate pain caused by rheumatic diseases.
The main indications for meloxicam are for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and other types of arthritis. It should not be used for acute pain or inflammation without rheumatic origin. Meloxicam should also not be used to treat viral or bacterial infections.
Meloxicam for Back Pain
In low back pain, inflammation of the tissues around the spine is one of the main causes of pain. Conditions such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and osteoarthritis can result in pinched or irritated nerves in the spine, leading to inflammation and painful sensitivity.
By inhibiting the COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes that produce pro-inflammatory prostaglandins, meloxicam prevents excessive inflammatory response and thus reduces pain and stiffness in the lower back and along the spine.
Studies show that meloxicam is effective in relieving acute and chronic low back pain. In one study, a daily dose of 15 mg provided significant improvement in pain and functional capacity in patients with chronic low back pain.
Meloxicam has advantages over other NSAIDs as it has a long duration of action, allowing administration in a single daily dose. Furthermore, it has a lower incidence of gastrointestinal effects compared to traditional NSAIDs.
How to Take Meloxicam Correctly
Meloxicam should only be used with a prescription and medical advice. The doctor will indicate the appropriate dosage and duration of treatment, taking into account the risks for each patient. Patients with kidney, liver or heart problems may require dose adjustments or even contraindications to meloxicam. The medicine is not recommended for pregnant women, especially in the third trimester, nor for breastfeeding women or children under 12 years of age.
Meloxicam should be taken with food to protect the stomach. Avoid drinking alcohol during treatment, as this increases the risk of gastric irritation. Tell your doctor if you use other medications to avoid dangerous interactions. Follow medical instructions exactly regarding the duration of treatment. NSAIDs should not be used continuously for long periods.
What is the dose of Meloxicam?
Meloxicam is available in 15mg or 7.5mg tablets. The maximum recommended daily dose is 15mg. The analgesic effects usually begin within 1 to 2 hours after oral intake and the duration of pain relief lasts around 24 hours.
Precautions and contraindications
- Do not use with active peptic ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding
- Caution in patients with renal, hepatic or cardiovascular dysfunction
- Avoid prolonged use due to the risk of gastrointestinal and renal toxicity
- May increase blood pressure, avoid in uncontrolled hypertensive patients
- Not recommended for pregnancy and breastfeeding
Risks and Side Effects
Like other NSAIDs, meloxicam can cause gastritis, ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding. It can also cause allergic reactions, kidney problems and elevated liver enzymes in some patients. The most common side effects are abdominal pain, nausea, heartburn, diarrhea and headache. Any unusual symptoms should be reported to your doctor.
- Gastrointestinal: abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Kidneys: fluid retention, kidney failure
- Cardiovascular: hypertension, increased risk of thrombotic events
- Hypersensitivity: rashes, itching, anaphylaxis
- Liver: elevation of liver enzymes
- Central Nervous System: dizziness, headache
Some important contraindications for meloxicam include: it cannot be used in children under 12 years of age; precautions for elderly people over 65 years of age; avoid use if there is kidney or liver failure; interaction with warfarin and other anticoagulants.
Benefits of Using Meloxicam
When used correctly under medical supervision, meloxicam can be very effective in relieving pain and inflammation caused by joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. The onset of the analgesic effect occurs within 1 to 2 hours after oral administration.
Meloxicam has some benefits over other NSAIDs, such as a lower incidence of gastric ulcers. However, it still presents significant risks, hence the importance of medical monitoring.
Frequently Asked Questions about Meloxicam
1. What is meloxicam used for?
Meloxicam is primarily used as an anti-inflammatory to reduce inflammation and pain caused by joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. As an NSAID, it works by blocking the enzymes cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), which are involved in the production of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins. By inhibiting these enzymes, meloxicam reduces inflammation, swelling, stiffness, and pain in affected joints.
2. What is the common meloxicam dosage?
The typical starting dosage of meloxicam is 7.5 mg to 15 mg per day, depending on the formulation. Immediate-release capsules are usually prescribed at a dose of 7.5 mg to 15 mg once daily. Extended-release capsules can start at a lower daily dose of 7.5 mg. The dose can be adjusted by the doctor based on the patient’s response.
3. How does meloxicam work in the body?
Meloxicam inhibits the COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes, which are involved in the production of pro-inflammatory substances called prostaglandins. By blocking these enzymes, meloxicam prevents excessive production of prostaglandins, thereby reducing inflammation, swelling, pain and fever. However, some prostaglandins also have protective effects, so blocking them can lead to side effects like digestive and cardiovascular problems.
4. Can I take meloxicam with alcohol?
It is not recommended to take meloxicam with alcohol. Alcohol can worsen the gastrointestinal side effects of meloxicam, such as ulcers, bleeding, and other problems. Even small amounts of alcohol in combination with meloxicam can be harmful. Talk to your doctor if you drink alcohol regularly.
5. Can meloxicam be used in the elderly?
Meloxicam is not the first choice for elderly patients (over 65 years of age). Anti-inflammatory medications such as meloxicam are on the Beers list of medications potentially inappropriate for use in the elderly due to the increased risk of side effects such as gastrointestinal bleeding, kidney failure and heart problems in older patients. If used, lower doses are recommended.
6. Do I need to take meloxicam with food?
You can take meloxicam with or without food. However, taking meloxicam with food may help reduce stomach upset if you experience this side effect. Food can protect the stomach from the irritation that meloxicam can cause.
7. What are the common side effects of meloxicam?
Gastrointestinal side effects are the most common with meloxicam. About 6 to 8% of patients experience indigestion, diarrhea, constipation or abdominal pain. Ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding may also occur. Other effects include fluid retention, high blood pressure, rashes and allergic reactions. Rarely, serious cardiovascular events may occur.
8. Does meloxicam interact with other medications?
Yes. You should not take meloxicam with other NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, as this increases the risk of side effects. It may also interact with diuretics, lithium, warfarin, cyclosporine and others. Tell your doctor about all medications you take before using meloxicam.
9. Can I use meloxicam long term?
Meloxicam should not be used long term. Its prolonged use increases the risk of serious cardiac, renal and gastrointestinal side effects. Treatment should be limited to the shortest period possible to control symptoms. Talk to your doctor regularly about your continued need for meloxicam.
10. How long does it take for meloxicam to take effect?
Meloxicam is absorbed by the body within 2 to 5 hours. However, it may take a few more days of regular use for you to experience full relief from the symptoms of joint inflammation and pain. Full effects are usually felt within 1 to 2 weeks.
11. Is meloxicam a strong NSAID?
Not necessarily. The relative potency of meloxicam compared to other NSAIDs depends on each person’s individual response. Some patients report better relief with ibuprofen, while others find meloxicam more effective. Assess with your doctor which NSAID is most appropriate for your case.
12. Can I drive while taking meloxicam?
You can usually drive while taking meloxicam, as long as you are not drowsy or dizzy. However, meloxicam may cause blurred vision in some patients, especially at the beginning of treatment. Avoid driving or operating machinery until you know how meloxicam affects you.
Meloxicam is a potentially useful medication in the treatment of inflammatory processes and joint pain. However, like any NSAID, it requires prescription and careful medical supervision for the benefits to outweigh the risks.
Follow medical instructions correctly and report any adverse effects. Proper monitoring can make the use of meloxicam safer and more effective.