woman with knee and joint pain, your knee pain

Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are among the most popular drugs in the pharmacy. Millions of people swallow ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, etc) and naproxen (Aleve) that they buy without a prescription. Doctors also prescribe NSAIDs in large quantities. Some of their favorites include: celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren), indomethacin (Indocin) and meloxicam (Mobic).
Despite their popularity, such drugs have the potential to do a significant amount of harm. Here are just some of the questions that we have received about meloxicam (Mobic) in particular.

“I am on high blood pressure medication and was prescribed meloxicam for a painful back sprain/strain from yard work. Within three days I was in the ER with extremely eleveated high blood pressure. Be careful if you take these types of drugs.

“My doctor prescribed meloxicam (Mobic) for a rotator cuff injury. My blood pressure was normal the day that I saw him. Not long after I realized I was experiencing headaches. I happened to see my rheumatologist a week later and was told my blood pressure was high. I stopped taking the Mobic a day later. I am hoping my BP will return to normal.”

“Is generic Mobic included in the category of NSAIDS possibly causing heart problems?”

High Blood Pressure

A little appreciated complication of meloxicam (as well as most other NSAIDs) is hypertension. For some, there may be only a little increase in blood pressure. For others, like Dee or I.H., the increase can be significant. Such drugs can cause fluid retention, which may in part account for the increase in blood pressure. This may be because such drugs can alter kidney function. But there may also be other cardiovascular risks.

Repeat Heart Attacks

Danish researchers identified nearly 100,000 patients over the age of 30 who had experienced a first-time heart attack sometime between 1997 and 2009. They were followed for up to 5 years after their initial heart attacks (Circulation, online, Sept 10, 2012). The scientists were especially interested in the post-heart attack use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Heart attack survivors who took an NSAID-type pain reliever were at a substantially higher risk of having another heart attack or dying than those patients who did not take such drugs. In their first year following a heart attack, about one-fifth of the NSAID users died, compared to 12 percent of those not taking an NSAID-type pain reliever. Over the five years of the study, NSAID users were about twice as likely to die as non-users. They were also at increased risk for another heart attack. The investigators concluded:

“It would seem prudent to limit NSAID use among patients with cardiovascular disease and to get the message out to clinicians taking care of these patients that NSAIDs are potentially harmful, even 5 years after MI [myocardial infarction or heart attack].”

When most health care providers think about side effects associated with NSAIDs they think GI toxicity. Here is an example of such a problem:

“I have had arthritis for over a decade. I am on methotrexate, folic acid, and meloxicam. Just recently (2 months ago) I started to have problems with my stomach: nausea. I thought it was some kind of bug but I was not sick, sick.

“I just recently had my 3rd major attack, and ended up in the emergency room. After 5 hours of tests, the diagnosis was inflammation of my esophagus. I have come to the to the conclusion that it is the medications that are making me sick.”

NSAIDs can cause inflammation of the digestive tract. Symptoms may include nausea and bad heartburn. The distress can become unbearable and put people (like CLC) in the emergency department. Life threatening bleeding or perforated ulcers can result.

NSAID Side Effects

  • Heartburn, indigestion, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, constipation
, diarrhea
  • Headache, dizziness, drowsiness, disorientation
  • Skin rash, sensitivity to sunlight, itching (potentially serious, so notify the MD!)
  • Fluid retention, edema, high blood pressure
  • Heart failure
, heart attack, stroke
  • Ringing in ears, hearing changes
  • Visual disturbances
  • Ulcers, bleeding ulcers, perforated ulcers
  • Liver damage, kidney damage
  • Blood disorders, anemia
  • Worsening asthma symptoms

Other Ways to Relieve Pain

“I have burning in my legs. I do not have restless leg syndrome… but the burning is more noticeable at night. I do exercise and do stretches. I take meloxicam for knee pain but that has not helped. Rubs do nothing. Any other suggestions?” Lorrie

We offer dozens of non-drug options in our book, Best Choices From The People’s Pharmacy. Herbs such as boswellia, spices such as cayenne or turmeric, supplements such as fish oil or vitamin D and foods such as grape juice with Certo, honey and vinegar, pineapple juice and tart cherries have all provided relief for some people with joint pain.

Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into tasty recipes is another approach to managing pain relief while limiting side effects. In our book Recipes & Remedies From The People’s Pharmacy, we offer instructions for remedies like cherry spritzer (p. 62), curcumin milk (p. 60), ginger pickle (p. 50), pineapple-cherry cocktail (p. 65), virgin raisins (p. 64) or anti-inflammatory curcumin scramble (p. 103). Adding fish to the diet in dishes such as favorite fish platter (p. 106), fish tacos with radish & lime (p. 120) horseradish-crusted salmon with cranberry catsup (p. 127), pescado al cilantro (p. 137) salmon with fava bean & spring pea mash (p. 141) or spicy fresh tuna salad (p. 143) puts anti-inflammatory power into everyday meals, and adds heart benefits rather than risks.

You can find all our books and guides in The People’s Pharmacy Store. And please reconsider routine use of NSAIDs like ibuprofen, meloxicam, naproxen and diclofenac. Such drugs may ease pain a bit, but the list of side effects is scary. People who have had heart attacks are not the only ones at risk for serious, even life-threatening complications.

We would love to hear your story about the pros and cons of NSAIDs. Have they worked without problems? Have you experienced side effects? Have you tried non-drug approaches for pain relief such as acupuncture or one of the herbs we mention above?

Share your experience below and thanks.

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  1. Linda
    Portland Oregon

    I have been on Meloxicam for about 4 years now and have not had any problems with it. Recently I have had some dizziness and was concerned so took my BP (I am a retired NP). I was very shocked to find that my BP was about 160/100, so immediately started eating better and exercising (yes, I am overweight by about 30 lbs.)

    It didn’t occur to me until today that Meloxicam may be playing a part. I will discontinue it (I’m taking it for knee pain) and consider taking ASA or tylenol if the knee pain is too difficult. I am glad that I found this forum as I had formerly been assured that Meloxicam had few side effects. I will also watch my BP and if it doesn’t come down will make an appointment with my MD. btw, that BP has been quite the motivator to live a healthy lifestyle!

  2. BJ
    St. Paul,MN.

    I was having severe pain on my left side and upper back, I tried to dismiss it but after five days the pain became unbearable. It hurt to take a deep breath in,cough or walk without extreme pain. The day before Easter I called the Care line and was advised by the Triage Nurse to go not to Urgent Care but to the ER . She advised me based on my medical history: heart attack 2007 and blood clot in my left lung 2009 this was where I would be in the best of care. Lab was drawn to rule out a PE, Chest X-Ray and EKG.

    The Doctor told me the test were negative and that I had pulled muscles in my upper back. I was given Oxycodone for pain and instructions to follow up with my Doctor. Two days later I saw a new Provider at the clinic as my Doctor had changed Clinics. I took my discharge papers with and was asked a few questions and then examined. He said I had pulled muscles as well . I asked for pain medication that was given to me at the ER as it helped ease the pain and was told He would prescribe a new med That I knew nothing about. I had it filled got home took one and the pain was there 2 hours later.

    The same day I made an appt. with my Primary for 4 days later. I tried to explain about this new med Meloxicam and how I still had the same pain 2 hours later and I would like a prescription for the med I was given at the ER because it worked. He said continue taking the Meloxicam. I informed Him that I had no intent of taking a med that did’t work.

    I worry about taking new meds as there are so many side effects. I currently take Crestor,Lisinopril,Metoprolol,Levothyroxine,Aspirin EC Low Dose 81MG, Spironolactone,Elavil and 1 MG Ativan for severe anxiety and panic attacks. I am 59 years old and am concerned about my health. I read the experience of others after I looked for any info on Meloxicam and was shocked! What must we do to become part of the best health care we deserve. This med I feel should never been prescribed for me. I am in total AWE!

  3. cindy

    I am 51 yrs old. Had a skroke in 2010, my new dr gave me this for my knee. Really? Can I sue my dr?

  4. Ron

    I will talk to my Cardiologist before taking.

  5. Ron

    I am starting on Meloxicam and have highblood pressure. What should I be aware of?

  6. barb

    I took meloxicam 15MG for 2 days only . Didn’t like the insomia side effect. It’s been 3 days since the last dosages. Still can’t sleep. How long does it take to get out of system?

  7. joy
    United States

    I’ve been taking meloxicam for about 3 to 4 months. I noticed that when I ate a meal I got full too fast and could not finish it. I have arthritis in my knees and back ache that’s why I was on it. Has any one experience that full feeling after eating?

    • Terry Graedon

      Be sure to let the doctor know about this. Meloxicam, like other NSAIDs, can have harmful effects on the digestive tract.

  8. Debra
    Washington State

    Thanks for the Info the Doctor didn’t give me.

  9. Gerry
    North Bay Canada

    I took Mobicox, along with narcotic analgesics, for about 10 years. I started developing intense chest pains. It was my heart for sure.

    After explaining to my doctor the conditions, and after having every test available don, nothing seemed to wrong. After reading about the medications I was taking on my own time, I found out that Vioxx and Mobicox are both Cox-2-inhibitor meds…Coca-Cola & Pepsi if you will.

    I suggested this to my doctor, along with the computer literature I had printed out…after reading the information I brought to the appointment, my doctor told me to quit the Mobicox immediately. I did, and four days later, NO CHEST PAINS. I should’ve become a doctor rather than a loser.

  10. Ruth
    Gold Coast QLD

    I am a 69 yo woman, and have severe arthritis in right hip, Dr has prescribed osteopanadol which I have been taking for about 18 months and mobic low dose. I am feeling nervous about the mobic as have limited scleroderma, mild asthma, moderate AR, have undergone catheter ablation for AF, also fused bicuspid aortic leaflet. meds are for high BP, high cholesterol, heart, seretide for asthma and 100 mg aspirin.
    I did ask the Dr if there were side effects , his reply was’ Only long-term.’ From what I have read that is not necessarily the case.
    Your thoughts please.

    • The People's Pharmacy

      Meloxicam, like other NSAIDs, can trigger cardiovascular complications like heart attacks and strokes. The longer you take such medicines the greater your likelihood of experiencing such a problem (they are not common). One study shows that meloxicam is less likely to cause such difficulties than other drugs in this category. Here’s a link to the abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25515365

  11. Kris
    Temecula, Ca.

    I’ve only taken Meloxicam once and it’s done nothing that the 200mg I took before seeing the Dr. did. I just called the pharmacist to ask how long I should wait before just going back to regular ibuprofen. He really didn’t seem to want me to stop taking the Meloxicam even though I told him it had done nothing for me. He said it could take up to 2 weeks, seriously??? I have a muscle stain in my low back that I’d really not have to wait 2 weeks for relief from. I’m going to stop the Meloxicam and go back to Advil.

  12. Tony

    I was abruptly taken off of opiate pain medication after being on it for four years and told to go to a methadone clinic, this was absolutely not what I wanted, my regular doctor was on maternity leave and the one covering for her made this change, my doctor and I had our own reduction plan in place.

    Anyway, I was very upset so I changed practices and my new doctor helped me off the opiate pain meds and now I’m prescribed Meloxicam and I’m having a heck of a time losing weight, I get really bad headaches and acid reflux like I’ve never had before, ever. I feel like I was better off on the narcotics, I certainly had less pain and no other side effects. I’m really starting to n

  13. susan

    Decreased joint pain and stiffness noticeably within 3 days. No stomach problems but was careful to eat something as directed.
    Then about 3 weeks into taking, ankles with pitting edema and at about 4 weeks, my well controlled high blood pressure on just 2.5 mg Vasorec went to 160/105. Have doubled Vasorec for now and stopped Mobic. Will look into other means for pain and stiffness. Thank you for this forum.

  14. eile

    I am a 57 year old active cardio exerciser, weight lifter and I run about 15 miles per week. I have taken Mobic off and on for 5 years and have no side effects. I usually take it for a week and then skip at least a month or more until pain comes back-usually inflammation in my lower back or other areas. I was wondering if my exercising would increase the chance of heart attack or stroke(since that is the worst side effect). And is it only a risk when i take it or for the weeks in between?

  15. Fireman

    After a forth arthroscopic procedure on a grade 4 shoulder my Ortho doc prescribed Mobic 15 mg, once a day for pain and to assist with physical therapy. Within 2-3 days my shoulder pain significantly subsided and I honestly felt the magic bullet had been discovered. I did notice some mild extremity (ankle) swelling but thought little of it, the shoulder felt so good, a little swelling was a minor inconvenience. After 21 days of 15 mg per day, I woke up, severe shortness of breath and extreme swelling in both ankles.

    I immediately got in contact with my cardiologist who did a complete exam, EKG, Echogram, and ultrasound of lower extremities…he also advised me to contact my Ortho doc immediately regarding the Mobic. I contacted the Ortho Doc who advised to cease the Mobic immediately and diligently follow the cardiologists medical plan. I ceased taking the Mobic, and within 48 hours my ankle swelling returned to a normal size, and had dropped 14 lbs… all within 48 hours. The shoulder pain has again returned to significantly restrictive with secondary set backs to physical therapy. I now experience extreme fatigue, headaches, etc. I will be following up with both docs in the near future, however for what it is worth…this particular medication, thou extremely effective, carries extreme side effects in certain patients. Use with caution……

    • Tony

      I totally agree with you, not the right medication for some people, I won’t take it anymore, I’d rather deal with my neck and back pain. I couldn’t figure out what medication was causing my weight issue and headaches. Hearing someone else experience the same effects has been very helpful. Thanks for sharing.

    • BILL

      A pa recommended 15 mg meloxicam to me for chronic sciatica and osteo arthritis in my knee. After only two pills I gained 7 pounds. I got a new scrip for 7.5 mg. After two pills gained another 4 pounds. Will never take this stuff again.

  16. Monica
    North Carolina

    I have been on and off meloxicam for almost 2 years now. I have noticed when I suddenly stop taking it, I seem highly irritable and I mean over the top like “I want to bite somebody’s head off” irritable. Is that a normal side effect? Would it be better to slowly ween myself off a regular daily dose? I take it for the bursitis in my shoulder which flares around my work load as a catering director. I thought by stopping it when I’m not in pain was a good thing but if I have to become an evil, crazy “stay away from that girl” kind of person, perhaps I shouldn’t deviate from daily ritual…. any thoughts and/or comments would be welcome.

  17. Pat

    I was on Meloxicam for more years then I can remember. Horrible headaches, huge digestive problems, painful leg pains, raised blood pressure, hair loss, swelling, hearing issues, itching, limited use in my arms , this list just goes on and on. The pain I was in was so bad that at age 60 I decided to stop all mammograms, pap tests etc as I felt what I was living with was hard enough and I would not be able to handle fighting cancer should I get it. This naturally happy, very active ole gal was giving up. It has been several months since I stopped Meloxicam, my improvements are remarkable. At this time I do not take anything for pain, not to say I do not have pain. Right now good old arthritis pain just isn’t as bad as being on Meloxicam.

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