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. Celeste
    Atlanta, Georgia

    I have ovarian cancer as well as severe inflammatory disease. As soon as I was diagnosed with cancer I was taken off of any anti-inflammatory medication such as methotrexate, plaquenil and Mobic. The arthritis became almost intolerable. Although I take narcotics for the cancer, it does not touch the arthritis. So I went back to Mobic, which has always helped me tremendously. Unfortunately I started bleeding each time I had a bm. So I quit and the bleeding quit. Once again I tried Mobic because I hurt so much from the arthritis and again I bled sometimes enough for it to drip into the water in the toilet but only at BM and also my BP began to be high and I have always had low normal blood pressure thank goodness. So I quit the Mobic again and the bleeding and high BP stopped again. I am now off Mobic for good and am waiting to see if the bleeding comes back on its own. If it does of course I will have to investigate further but right now stopping taking Mobic also stops the bleeding and high BP, so for me that is my plan.

    • Terry Graedon

      Make sure you tell your doctor what you have reported here. There may be other pain control options–and the bleeding might need to be investigated sooner rather than later.

  2. Veta
    Odessa TX

    I have been taking 7.5 mg of meloxicam twice a day for at least 12 years–since Vioxx was taken off the market. My internist recently urged me to go off the medication. At 76 , I have no major medical issues other than osteoarthritis. My internist put me on gabapentin 300 mg five times a day. We will see where that goes.

  3. Barry

    I’m a 60 year-old male, and was prescribed 15 mg meloxicam for chronic neck muscle tightness and pain. I began taking it with an herbal muscle relaxant (consisting of valerian and passionflower). Together they really worked well, but i felt an occasional pain in my stomach after taking it. I took it for only 10 days, then decided to go off it because of the stomach pain. It’s now 2 weeks later, and i still have the pain (intermittently). The warnings of meloxicam do state the following: ‘taking it may raise the chance of very bad and sometimes deadly stomach or bowel side effects like ulcers or bleeding.’ So be very aware of this, and go off the medication and tell your doctor if you feel any stomach pain.

  4. Karen

    I have been on Mobic 7.5 mg for osteoarthritis for 5 yrs. I’ve had 3 hand surgeries since 2012. For a while, I was put on Tramadol but stopped it because of extreme itching. Codeine also caused extreme itching.

    Now, I’m experiencing a rash on my face, ear, side of my neck, under one breast, and two places on my abdomen with extreme itching and pain. And, A few nickel size patches elsewhere.

    Could I be reacting to the Mobic? I did take 15 mg a few times last week. ( 2 of 7.5 mg)
    I’ve been to the clinic twice and was give Acyclovir and prednisone, thinking it could be Shingles or topical dermatitis.

    Today, I was given Diflucan and Nystatin, probably thinking it could be fungal. I’m miserable and will stop the Mobic for a few days to see what happens. I really hope someone is familiar with my symptoms and could offer advice?????

  5. beth

    I read this article with great interest because I know what happened to me when a doctor prescribed Diclofenic for me. Without even an examination, he gave this drug and within 5 days, I became dizzy and suffered palpitations.

    I was due to go on a holiday when the day before warning signs became evident and had to go to accident and emergency where I was seen by a doctor who said various tests would have to be carried out but I was told no flying.

    My blood pressure (normally 128/90) was 190/60. I had an E.C.G ECHO CARDIOGRAM AND CAROTID SCAN. ALL CLEAR. It was down to N.S.A.I.D.S, however 24hr tracer picked up abnormal beats and I have been diagnosed with A/F and now on Anticoagulants.

    Other people I know have had to come off this group of drugs and now take pain killers, like asprin or co-codamol and will never return to that group of drugs.

  6. Bobby

    I had been suffering with joint pain just about since I was a teenager I’m 34 now I will was prescribed Miloxicam on a Thursday and I took it mid day and that would be my dose for the day and by Friday night I started getting severe diarrhea my burps taste like farts and smell like farts and are unbearable the farts were even worse, severe diarrhea like I could not even explain I have now been 3 days without sleep because of this medicine as far as I can see it is only approved and dogs and cats and the FDA has sent out an actual warning to doctors for off-label use of this drug I highly recommend against using this and even in cats it’s for one time use only so be careful and avoid at all cost unless you really love sitting on Tha toilet every half hour to an hour, even all through the night.

    • Mike

      I was just prescribed Meloxicam for the pain in my knee from severe arthritis but after just reading the 50 comments, it doesn’t sound like a good cure with all the complications from the drug. I was taking 200mg of hydroxychloriquine along with 500mg of naproxen once a day for years with no side effects & they told me I could take it twice a day. It takes a couple months of being on it before you start feeling the results of it and no pain so it’s something for you to try. And I’m going back on that instead of the Meloxicam I’m thinking too.

  7. Bev.

    Like others I have had ankle swelling and I have been on meloxicam about 3 months. I recently heard about SAM-e supplements for joint pain and was wondering if this was a good alternative for pain.

  8. Emerald Eyes

    My experience with Meloxicam [l- 15 mg tablet per day] has been wonderful! I ‘ve been on it for 2 months as I was in a great deal of arthritic pain in my left hip and had been treating it with topical applications, heat and naturopathic remedies including rubbing with Castor Oil. Nothing worked for any length of time. Within a couple of hours of taking the first tablet I felt relief and in fact, a greater sense of wellness without the pain when I walked. I had virtually no side effects and it allowed me to walk somewhat more gracefully and a little further – which resulted in a bit of weight loss too.

    Now, I have to say that I have no other health problems that I am taking prescription medication for and have always refused prescription drugs as the 1st line of treatment. My doctor was surprised at how quickly and how well it worked for me but I am convinced that the fact that there was no other interaction with other drugs is the reason that it was so successful. My doctor mentioned last week that with prolonged use, it can cause liver damage so I’ve decided to take it for another month and speak to my doctor about getting off it, especially with the weight loss which I believe contributes to the pain. I am neither recommending it, nor am I panning it as an effective treatment. I think each person has to weigh the pro’s and the con’s for their own situation.

    Good Luck.


  9. Sharon
    Sydney Australia

    Hi. I just came across your thread. I was taking Mobic (Meloxicam) for severe arthritis in my lower spine, knees, hips and feet. I am waiting to have a fusion operation on my right foot and have fractures in both my feet caused by loss of cartilage. I have blood tests every 3 months and for the last 18 months have seen a reduction in my kidney function which my Dr believes is due to the Mobic. Last week I got the results of my last blood test. My kidney function is now down to about 50% and I am anemic due to reduced red blood cell production caused by the kidney problems. I was told to stop taking the Mobic for 4 weeks and then have another blood test so the Dr can determine if it is the Mobic that is the culprit. It’s been a week since I took them and I am in awful pain with the arthritis and can hardly walk. I take Tramadol 300mg a day and panadol oesteo tablets 3 times a day. I also take fish oil, glucosamine and have started on Tumeric tablets. Is there a safer alternative to these NSAIDS like Mobic? I’m getting to the point now where I feel like I will have to give up work (I’m 57) because of the pain.

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

  12. 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?

  13. Ron

    I will talk to my Cardiologist before taking.

  14. Ron

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

  15. 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?

    • julie
      summit, Nj

      i am having the same exact experience! How long before you got it out of your system and were able to sleep again?

  16. 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.

  17. Debra
    Washington State

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

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  21. 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

  22. 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.

  23. 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?

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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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