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Last updated: Sep 24, 2020
5 min read

How long does it take for meloxicam to work?

yael coopermanlinnea zielinski

Medically Reviewed by Yael Cooperman, MD

Written by Linnea Zielinski

Disclaimer

If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

The time it takes for meloxicam to give you pain relief depends on the dosage you’ve been prescribed and the severity of your underlying condition. While some individuals may get relief within two to three weeks of starting treatment, the full effects can take months. 

Meloxicam, a prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used most frequently to manage the pain and swelling associated with inflammatory conditions, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and is stronger than over-the-counter pain relievers like Advil and Motrin. 

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Even one day can be a long time to suffer from the pain and swelling of arthritis, making fast relief especially important when starting any new treatment. Research shows that people with RA begin to feel some relief as early as three weeks into treatment.

A study that only tested the NSAID for three weeks still found a significant improvement in patients’ morning joint pain by the end of the study. Patients with osteoarthritis may experience improvements in their joint pain even faster.

Researchers noted evidence that meloxicam was working after just two weeks in patients given either 7.5 or 15 mg daily doses of the drug. The results were also dose-dependent; those given higher doses of meloxicam experienced more relief.

But even if your symptoms are not entirely relieved after a few weeks, your healthcare provider may ask you to wait. One study showed that the drug’s effects increased over the first six months of treatment in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. 

What is meloxicam?

Meloxicam is a prescription NSAID approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat the joint pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and juvenile RA. None of these conditions can be cured, but NSAIDs like meloxicam can manage pain associated with joint inflammation (FDA, 2012).

Meloxicam may also be used off-label to treat the pain caused by gout flare-ups. Gout is a painful type of arthritis characterized by sudden pain, redness, and swelling that most commonly affects one joint of the big toe but can appear in any joint in the body. It results from a buildup of uric acid in the body, and flare-ups can be triggered by a range of behavioral factors in susceptible individuals (Jin, 2012).

Certain foods, like shellfish and red meat, and drugs, like aspirin and certain diuretics (“water pills”) increase the levels of uric acid in the body. While avoiding triggers is crucial for preventing gout flare-ups, meloxicam can be used to help manage gout symptoms (Gaffo, 2019).

Meloxicam has also been used off-label to treat the pain associated with ankylosing spondylitis, a chronic inflammatory condition of the spine. This condition also has no cure, but NSAIDS can manage the joint and back pain associated with it (NIH, 2020).

How long does it take to work?

Meloxicam may improve symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis within two or three weeks. Those on higher doses of this NSAID may experience more relief during that time. The full effects of meloxicam may take six months to fully kick in.

Dosage and brand names

Meloxicam is available as a generic drug and as the brand-name medications Mobic or Vivlodex. Both generic and brand-name meloxicam tablets are available in 5 mg, 7.5 mg, 10 mg, and 15 mg dosages.

There are multiple forms of this medication. Meloxicam comes as an oral suspension (7.5 mg/5 mL), a disintegrating tablet (7.5 and 15 mg dosages), and an intravenous solution (30 mg/mL).

Most people take one pill by mouth daily. If you miss a dose, take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose as usual. Don’t take a double dose. Meloxicam tablets should be stored at room temperature and out of the reach of children.

A 30-day supply costs between $4 to over $400, but many insurance plans cover meloxicam. The price depends on the strength and whether you purchase brand name or generic pills (GoodRx.com). 

Side effects and risks

The most common side effects of meloxicam are diarrhea, indigestion, and flu-like symptoms. Headache, dizziness, skin rash, and other gastrointestinal issues such as heartburn, nausea, and gas are also possible side effects (DailyMed, 2019).

The FDA issued a black box warning, its most serious advisory. Meloxicam may increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes, especially in people with heart problems. It can also have serious side effects on your gastrointestinal system (this risk may be higher if you use meloxicam long-term). 

Meloxicam can increase your risk of bleeding, as well as the risk of stomach ulcers and perforations in the stomach or intestines. These conditions may occur without warning and may be fatal. Older people and those with a prior history of GI problems using meloxicam are at higher risk for these adverse effects.

Meloxicam also interferes with blood clotting and slows clotting time. This may increase your risk of bleeding. Meloxicam should not be used to treat pain right before or after heart surgery, like a coronary artery bypass graft procedure. This is because NSAIDs increase the risk of heart attack or stroke following these procedures (Kulik, 2015).

Meloxicam can also increase the risk of bleeding, ulceration, and holes (perforations) in the stomach or intestines. 

NSAIDs such as meloxicam should also not be taken during the third trimester of pregnancy. These medications may interfere with how the fetus’s heart develops and redirect blood flow in the fetus’s body, which may result in progressive heart problems later on (Enzensberger, 2012). 

When to seek medical attention

You should seek medical attention immediately if you experience severe stomach pain that won’t go away, black or bloody stool (tarry stool), dizziness, or loss of consciousness.

Meloxicam may cause severe allergic reactions. Signs of an allergic reaction include hives, trouble breathing, shortness of breath, or a blistering skin rash. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention (DailyMed, 2019).

References

    
    
    
    
    
  1. Bermas, B. L. (2014). Non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs, glucocorticoids and disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs for the management of rheumatoid arthritis before and during pregnancy. Current Opinion in Rheumatology, 26(3), 334-340. doi:10.1097/bor.0000000000000054. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24663106/
  2. Bloor, M., & Paech, M. (2013). Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs During Pregnancy and the Initiation of Lactation. Anesthesia & Analgesia, 116(5), 1063-1075. doi:10.1213/ane.0b013e31828a4b54. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23558845/
  3. DailyMed (2019). Meloxicam tablet. Retrieved on September 16, 2020 from https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=d5e12448-1ca1-46a4-8de4-e8b94567e5a8
  4. Enzensberger, C., Wienhard, J., Weichert, J., Kawecki, A., Degenhardt, J., Vogel, M., & Axt-Fliedner, R. (2012). Idiopathic Constriction of the Fetal Ductus Arteriosus. Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine, 31(8), 1285-1291. doi:10.7863/jum.2012.31.8.1285. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22837295/
  5. Fournier, J. P., Sommet, A., Bourrel, R., Oustric, S., Pathak, A., Lapeyre-Mestre, M., & Montastruc, J. L. (2012). Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and hypertension treatment intensification: a population-based cohort study. European journal of clinical pharmacology, 68(11), 1533–1540. doi:10.1007/s00228-012-1283-9. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22527348/
  6. Gaffo, A. L., MD, MsPH. (2019, December 4). Treatment of gout flares. Retrieved September 18, 2020 from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/treatment-of-gout-flares/
  7. GoodRx.com (n.d.). Meloxicam. Retrieved 16 September 2020 from https://www.goodrx.com/meloxicam
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  11. National Institutes of Health (NIH). (2020, August 17). Ankylosing spondylitis – Genetics Home Reference – NIH. Retrieved September 22, 2020 from https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/ankylosing-spondylitis/
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