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.
Q. 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.
Dee


Q. 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 return to normal.

I.H.


Q. Is generic Mobic included in the category of NSAIDS possibly causing heart problems?


A. 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.
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:
Q. 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.

CLC
A. 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

Q. 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

A. 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.

Join Over 52,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

  1. Chris S
    Reply

    The drug worked,but it raised my already high blood pressure by 50 points. I was not willing to trade relief for heart problems.

  2. Merry
    Reply

    Have taken naproxen (prescription) off and on for years for low back and leg nerve pain. Never had a problem. Now need to to take it more frequently and have looked for something else without finding anything.
    Meloxicam was a terrible drug and did nothing to help me at all. Big waste of money, supposed to be easy on the stomach. I don’t know what people who have constant debilitating pain are supposed to do when warned away from NSAIDs. There is nothing else.
    Turmeric made me violently sick at my stomach and sent me running to the bathroom. Many herbs and supplements prescribed by alternative care practitioners cause just as much injury as NSAIDS. I should know, have worked in alternative care for years. Chiropractic is not for really severe low back injuries and nerve leg pain. Everything depends on the cause of the pain. Everyone reacts differently to every remedy.

  3. Christie
    Reply

    I began taking Meloxicam 7.5 twice a day in April 2014. By June my stomach was so messed up I couldn’t stand it. So my pain doctor changed me to Diclophenac. Same stomach issues.
    I have now quit taking any of it except Lortabs which I have taken for years unfortunately due to back pain from a broken back. My stomach is still torn up after weeks of not taking any NSAIDs. I have been to my primary doc and had all kinds of tests done and everything has come back normal but my stomach is still a mess. Constant nausea.
    I have started taking Prilosec but it hasn’t helped much. The NSAIDs also raised my blood pressure and now I am taking bp medicine. Stay away from these awful drugs!!

  4. NC
    Reply

    My doctor has prescribed 15 mg of Meloxicum. It makes pain worse. My whole body hurts. It doesn’t work for me, but hopefully works for others.

  5. Daniel H.
    Reply

    Have nerve pain in my leg from a bulging disc it seems when I take my mobic daily it makes my pain worse cause when I stop it seems to be much better just wondering has anybody else experienced this issue?

  6. KP
    Reply

    In January I was placed on Mobic 15 mg daily for severe foot pain. Before going to the doctor I was taking Advil 2 tabs at bed time for the foot pain. I did not think about the two meds being the same class of meds and continued the Advil at night. About three weeks after starting the Mobic I woke up feeling terrible. I had heart palpitations, shortness of breath and lethargy. After a day of feeling this way I thought about the Mobic and the Advil and stopped taking both. I got some better but did not improve any further.
    Prior to this event I was walking 3 miles 3-4 days a week and swimming laps for an hour twice a week. After the event I could not even walk to the mailbox without palpitations and shortness of breath. I had a stress test and it showed mild left ventricular ischemia. I also had severe shortness of breath during the test and they had to stop the test. I had a heart cath and it was perfectly normal. The doctors seem unwilling to attribute my systems to the Mobic but they have nothing else to offer to me. I might add that I am 72 years old. I am making some progress; I am back walking but unable to go 3 miles. Continue to have some palpitations. Any suggestions would be appreciated,.

  7. gb
    Reply

    About 6 hours after taking one pill of menoxicam I started having severe itching on both arms. I had a rash on both arms that looked like a blotchy bright red sunburn. It was also on my chest. I finally realized I must be having an allergic reaction to the new arthritis med I took that morning for the first time. I also had stomach issues. Reading the potential side effects was scary.
    I’ll just stick to using good old Bayer aspirin that I tolerate well. Probably because I take prilosec, a proton pump inhibitor that gives some protection to the stomach by lessening acid production. Plus I had fluid retention since I gained 4.5 lbs I one day. I ply gain 3 from the salt in Chinese food. I can still see blotchyness after 3 days. Benadryl did stop itch.

  8. Jerry
    Reply

    what is in meloxicam at makes me itch all over?

  9. Linda
    Reply

    I’ve been using meloxicam for about two years. It barely takes the edge off the pain of arthritis in my knees. It also gives me higher blood pressure. I went off meloxicam for about a month this summer, and my blood pressure fell to its regular, good level. It also makes my ankles swell and makes me dizzy. I had to go back on the drug after a particularly long car trip made my knees ache. I hope to go off it when I get my next cortisone shots. I find most remedies-prescribed, OTC and food/spices-don’t work to ease the pain. Turmeric gave me such bad heartburn that I thought I was having a heart attack. Physical therapy exercises to strengthen my leg muscles and losing weight seem to help the most. Gentle yoga also helps. I have to keep moving to get rid of the pain, and that’s not a bad thing.

  10. Diana
    Reply

    ‘Went to the orthopedist with what I thought was a torn meniscus in my knee…He diagnosed arthritis too and put me on Celebrex…These were only samples and I did not look up any side effects regarding the drug…
    During the ten days I was on the medication I started to feel very itchy…I felt like bugs were under my skin all over my body…I wasn’t sure what was causing this-bug infestation, very dry skin, allergy to a cosmetic or cream…When the samples ended, the doctor gave my a full prescription of the drug…It was then that I found that one of the side effects of the Celebrex was itching…
    The instructions listed for the drug were to stop the medication immediately and call the doctor…This was Saturday and I had to wait until Monday…I still had the itching on Saturday but on Saturday night, I had an allergy attack and used an over the counter antihistamine…Sunday, the itching stopped…I loved the effects of the Celebrex itself…’Did not think I would take it long term and asked the doctor if I could take the Celebrex along with an antihistamine…
    The itching had been listed with other side effects such as vomiting blood and jaundice…Itching, although annoying, seemed minor when dealing with my pain…The doctor prescribed Mobic in a small dose which he says is a “poor cousin” to Celebrex…
    I would love to use nothing at all but the fact that I may have the tear and have arthritis to boot will make me take the Mobic to bridge the pain related to recovery (hopefully no itching)…I have thought of taking Chondrountin Gloucomate (right spelling?) which was also recommended…Has anyone had good results with that?

  11. Roberta
    Reply

    I started on this medication June 4 2013 for Facet disease. Exactly one month later, July 3rd,the refill, the medication no longer worked. Still does not. I’m not hungry, in fact I wait until my hands are shaking before I eat. Yet, in the first month of use I gained 3 lbs. I’m not eating enough to gain weight, this medication is the only difference. My feet and legs also swell. And the first three days of taking I had terrible dreams. I want to discontinue but I’m waiting until I see a Body Dr. on August 6th. I have the same pain now that I did before starting this medication.
    Roberta

  12. Eliza
    Reply

    I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at around 20. I refused the drugs as I knew what happened to people who took that stuff for years (my relatives). I quit the division 1 sports program I played at. My brother had been diagnosed a few years earlier. We both would share our experiences particularly with autoimmune eye pain (very painful). I took lots of OTC NSAIDS and had ringing in the ears. I ended up seeing a chiropractor (sneaking there as I came from a very medical family). She helped me with a great deal of the joint pain and gradually got me to change my diet. I figured if chiropractic could keep me upright that’d be great but it helped me so much more than that.
    I took predisolone for the eye issues, an occasional aspirin, and got off wheat. 35 years later, I find dairy makes me achey and I am still a bit stiff. I have been in ‘remission’ for 20 years. Oh yeah, and I became a chiropractor.
    I recommend your show and books to everyone. Thank you so much for your work!!

  13. blw
    Reply

    I have been on Celebrex for my arthritis for years with no problem, before then I was on Tramadol, Mobic.
    Now I have blood and bacteria in my urine, could it be from the NSAIDS? If I go off them, will it clear up or not? GOING Mon to a urologist for consultation.
    But arthritis is so painful w/o meds. I’ve tried the rum soaked raisins, alfalfa pills, Certo and grape juice and they don’t help.
    My blood pressure is a little high so he put me on amlodipine. I was on atenonol and it gave me Raynauds Syndrome.
    I’m really worried about the blood I see in my urine.

  14. DoeGentry
    Reply

    How do you take the Tumeric?

  15. Lue F.
    Reply

    I was on Celebrex for arthritis for several years when my Dr. ordered Mobic instead, and now been on Mobil for a number of years. Recently, he has refused to prescribe Mobic and all NSAIDs to his patients, ordering Tramadol instead. I started taking Aleve on my own for the arthritis, but now have stopped taking it and have found that most of the time I can do without the Aleve, only taking it when the arthritis makes it too hard to move around easily. I’m hoping that I can get to where I do not need the Aleve at all, even though I have had none of the complications or side-effects to NSAIDs so far, even though I have been on them for quite a number of years.

  16. LC
    Reply

    After severe insect bite reaction, given Levaquin 500 mg. Within 5 days my left shoulder was so painful I had little range of motion. Doctor could not figure out what caused shoulder to be so bad. Six weeks later, after not sleeping one night due to pain, doctor gave me Meloxican 7.5 mg. Worked GREAT! Second day an itch, similar to beginning of poison ivy started. Had to discontinue Meloxicam. That one night was enough go get me past the worst of the pain and it has not returned. Then read Levaquin can cause extreme shoulder pain and injure arm muscles which had to be the cause of my problem. Sigh.

  17. Henry
    Reply

    Hi,
    I would definitely try modified citrus pectin for arthritis pain!
    Especially, the type recommended by Dr. Eliaz, because his brand has
    extremely small molecular structure, which is required for any meaningful
    results.

  18. Pete
    Reply

    I have taken meloxicam for years. I have ringing in the ears – always thought it was due to age. I also suffered from a lot of gas. When I was off Meloxicam I realized the stomach & intestinal problems were gone. I now take ibuprofen but no more than 5 a day.

  19. SH
    Reply

    HI – I do not care if this is published or not! But, I’d really appreciate a response as I am struggling and looking for information. I have pervasive and painful OA (2 joint replacements before current age of 70 y.o.) About 8 years ago, I began (with MD) a series of trials with nsaids for increasing joint stiffness and pain. Started with OTC meds, each for 3-4 months and found no difference. Went to prescription nsaids with same trial procedure to try find one that might help. After numerous script-nsaids, I felt that etodolac might be helping me. (I’ve never had any dramatic change with any med, only subtle and many, many meds have no effect – e.g., a year of lyrica with no effect – as also have fibromyalgia.)
    Have taken etodolac last 6+ years or so – 400 mg three/day with food. I became confident etodolac was helping me when I had 2 replacement surgeries and had to go off it for 1 month. At end of month, what I most noticed was increase in stiffness – e.g., could hardly get up from a chair. So have stayed with etodolac until 5 weeks ago when (on reviewing all my meds with an elder-pharmacist-specialist)I decided to stop etodolac (mostly because of his concerns re GI bleeding potential, especially when also taking aspirin 81 mg/day – even though careful not to take the two meds at same time).
    Now 5 weeks with no nsaid, stiffness + pain have slowly increased with current shoulder and neck problems (known vulnerable areas), I find it hard to sleep and do ADL’s. So I’m in process of re-weighing risk/benefit of nsaid-use and considering undertaking the trial described above, starting with OTC nsaids. I know one’s body and med-reactions change with age so perhaps the results would be different now.
    BUT my question is: Are you saying above (and does data show) that there is a difference in potential side-effects with OTC vs prescribed nsaids? YOU seem to emphasize not taking OTC nsaids, although there are examples given of people with prescribed nsaids having problems.
    I appreciate the non-med remedies you list – almost all of them I do or eat! I believe that my CV status & BP are okay. I should also say that for about half of the time I’ve taken etodolac, I also took omeprazole as a protective measure for GI (did not have heart-burn). However, when I discovered recently that omeprazole blocks absorption of CA, iron, B12 and decreases benefits of aspirin, I was outraged because I take great care with my diet and home-cooking and want all those good nutrients to be getting full-strength into my aging body!! So, I stopped omeprazole shortly before I stopped etodolac (with no apparent side-effects with no omeprazole).
    Do you have any advice, feedback, or comments?? Thank you very much. PS Acetophenomine (?sp) does nothing for me. One last question: Is there a way to either copy or print specific articles in your newsletter? I am a brand-new subscriber. Thanks again.

  20. Karen
    Reply

    >Such drugs may ease pain a bit
    Such drugs may also eliminate the pain completely, allowing a person to exercise or sleep more comfortably.
    Pain raises BP, too.
    Another double-blind we’re not likely to see: rate of death for couch potatoes who hurt too much to exercise, vs. rate of death for people who take NSAIDs so they can exercise. One can only wonder what it was that the 20% of people who died while taking NSAIDs
    a) were doing when they died, and
    b) were taking the NSAIDs for in the first place.
    In other words, was it the NSAID that killed them, or the problem they took the NSAIDs for that killed them, or even, was it the freedom-from-pain granted by NSAIDs that allowed them to be active enough to cause a second heart attack?
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: Good questions. No answers.

  21. JS
    Reply

    I take a methocarbomal 500 mg periodically for back pain, but I am wondering if this also does the same thing as NSAIDS to blood pressure. My BP fluctuates wildly and no doctor has acted concerned. I also take a Kirkland Brand (Costco) Sleep Aid to help with sleep along with 3mg of melatonin. Could these also mimic the BP problem?

  22. RLB
    Reply

    My compliments to your doctor, Paul. At least there is one doctor with a reasonable approach to maintenance. Most doctors fail to categorize and tailor their treatment plans and end up with a sledge hammer to kill a flea approach. If more doctors used her approach, there would be far fewer disastrous side effects. Any reasonable person should know that NSAID’s do not cure, they only provide some degree of comfort. The lowest dose possible to achieve that comfort should be prescribed. Most doctors, unfortunately use the overkill prescription, usually with unsatisfactory outcomes.
    If more people only went to a doctor when they were sick, there would be fewer sick people.

  23. paulbyr
    Reply

    My Dr. (Internist) prescribed 15 mg of [generic] mobic for my knee pain which had made going up and down stairs difficult. She said take one tab a day and then let her know at a follow-up visit we already had scheduled in a month (foe something else).
    After several days my pain was essentially gone and was gone after a couple more days!
    At the follow up, I told her and she said, “Now I want you to break the 15 mg pill in half and take the half every 2nd or 3rd day. So, now for about a year, I take (about) 7.5 mg of Mobic every 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) day and my knees don’t hurt. Pretty good for a 75 yr old man.
    I am not aware a side effects – BP is still fine (has always been on the low side, never high). I just had my yearly exam and nothing bad was found.
    So – maybe Mobic works safely and very well for other people too and that’s why the docs keep prescribing it. If you have high BP, maybe your Dr. isn’t up on the above info.

  24. jmd
    Reply

    I’m 66 with collapsing scoliosis, had two major surgeries, and have two rods attached to pelvic, and heavy pain level, which I’ve suffered to the point I had to start taking meds on a schedule basis. I take one Celebrex 200 mg daily and 4 Tramadol – this regime controls my pain enough to live; before that I was struggling and unable to pull myself up! Every couple of months I try to stretch out the Celebrex to every-other day, but by the second day, my pain level is rising high already, and I feel I must take one. I would appreciate suggestions for a situation such as mine. My doctors tell me the normal person with my back condition is having to take narcotics for the pain, which I am fighting not to do as long as these two drugs help me to cope. Thank you for any suggestions!

  25. Cindy
    Reply

    Thank you for the message about NSAIDS through the years. Recently I had a tooth pulled. My dentist said I could take 800 mg of Ibuprofen every 4 to 6 hours {4 OTC tablets}. He was very reassuring that this was safe. I knew better thanks to you folks. I did take half that amount. My BP went up to 180/105 at the highest point. I carefully monitored it and took an extra BP pill when it got that high. As soon as I possibly could I cut back. I noticed I had gained 3 lbs in those few days that I have since lost now that I am not taking any NSAID. I attributed it to inactivity but now realize it may have been water retention. ~

  26. richard.mccracken
    Reply

    I used to take ibuprofen for aching pain related to arthritis in my thumb and index finger joints. I now take 3 500 mg capsules of turmeric and that works better than the ibuprofen.

What Do You Think?

Share your thoughts with others, but be mindful of protecting your own and others' privacy. Not all comments will be posted. Advice from web visitors is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. In posting a comment, you agree to our commenting policy and website terms and conditions.