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Can I Take Meloxicam and Ibuprofen? Everything You Need To Know About Side Effects and Risks

Can I Take Meloxicam With Ibuprofen

Key Points

  • Meloxicam and ibuprofen are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that treat pain and inflammation.
  • While both meloxicam and ibuprofen have similar benefits in treating pain and inflammation, their risk profiles may differ slightly, particularly in terms of gastrointestinal and cardiovascular risks.
  • The key differences between the two are that meloxicam is only available by prescription and taken once daily, while ibuprofen is available by prescription and over the counter and may require multiple daily doses.

Meloxicam and ibuprofen are two widely used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) used to treat pain and inflammatory joint conditions like arthritis. Though they’re in the same drug class and have similar mechanisms, there are important differences to consider in choosing the right one for you.

If you have questions like “15 mg meloxicam equals how much ibuprofen?” or “Which is the better pain relief option?”, you can learn more about meloxicam and ibuprofen, how they work, their side effects, and why one may be the better choice in certain circumstances.

What Is Meloxicam?

Meloxicam (Mobic) is a commonly used painkiller to treat arthritis. It’s approved for use as a prescription NSAID and is currently estimated to be over 9 million prescriptions in the USA each year.[1]

Like other NSAID medications, Meloxicam is a COX inhibiter, which means it interferes with cyclooxygenase enzymes to decrease the production of prostaglandins temporarily. Prostaglandins promote pain, fever, and inflammation in the body, so when they’re blocked, they can reduce pain and discomfort.

With these properties, meloxicam is effective as an anti-inflammatory and an analgesic medication to treat pain, swelling, and tenderness associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It’s typically taken in a tablet or liquid suspension form.

What Is Ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen is available under the brand names Motrin and Advil. It’s also an active ingredient in combination medications for conditions like cold and flu.

Like meloxicam, ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory and analgesic medication that works by decreasing the production of prostaglandins, which reduce inflammation, pain, and fever.

Though prescription formulas exist for ibuprofen, it’s widely available over the counter at pharmacies. People may take ibuprofen to reduce fever and treat mild to moderate pain from arthritis, gout, menstrual cramps, and headaches.

Ibuprofen is a favored NSAID because it’s generally safe, well-tolerated, inexpensive, and widely available. It’s been on the market since 1974, and over-the-counter options began in 1984. Prescription ibuprofen is usually oral, while over-the-counter ibuprofen is available in capsules, tablets, and liquid suspension.

Meloxicam and Ibuprofen Dosing

Meloxicam and ibuprofen have different dosages because they last for different amounts of time. With either drug, it’s important to take the lowest effect dose for the shortest time possible to reduce the risk of side effects.
The adult dosages of meloxicam are:[2]

  • 5 mg to 10 mg once daily for capsules.
  • 7.5 mg to 15 mg once daily for tablets.
  • 7.5 mg to 15 mg (5 mL to 10 mL) once daily for liquid suspension.

The adult dosages of ibuprofen are:[3]

  • 400 mg to 800 mg 3 or 4 times a day for arthritis.
  • 400 mg every 4 to 6 hours as needed for mild to moderate pain.
  • 400 mg every 4 hours as needed for menstrual cramps.

There’s no set timeframe for a course of meloxicam or ibuprofen. The lowest dose of either drug should be taken for the shortest time possible.

Meloxicam was tested in clinical studies and shown to be safe for daily use for up to 6 months.[4] Prescription ibuprofen was shown to be safe for up to 1 year.[5] Over-the-counter ibuprofen should only be taken for 10 days, however. If you still have pain, it’s important to speak to your doctor.

Meloxicam and Ibuprofen Side Effects

Meloxicam and Ibuprofen Side EffectsMeloxicam and ibuprofen are both NSAIDs and COX inhibitors, so they have similar side effects. [6]Some of these include:

  • Stomach upset
  • Indigestion
  • Stomach cramps

Both medications have the potential for more serious side effects, such as:[7]

  • Ulcer development
  • Stomach bleeding
  • Kidney issues
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Serious cardiovascular risks such as heart attack and stroke can be a concern with NSAIDs, especially with long-term use or in individuals with existing cardiovascular risk factors. The risk of gastric ulcers and bleeding is also significant and not necessarily rare.

Long-Term Risks

Meloxicam and ibuprofen have serious risks like ulcers and heart or kidney damage, but there are some differences between them.
Ibuprofen has a lower risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, but both medications can cause a bleed.[8] Researchers don’t know why meloxicam carries a higher risk of bleeding, but they know that it does.

Both meloxicam and ibuprofen can harm the heart. Long-term use of NSAIDs can result in an increased risk of heart attacks and stroke. This is especially true with high doses or for people with heart problems.

The same is true of the kidneys. All NSAIDs can be harmful to the kidneys, especially in people with existing kidney problems. While liver toxicity is less common with NSAIDs like meloxicam and ibuprofen compared to other side effects, there is still a potential risk, even in individuals without pre-existing liver conditions.

NSAIDs, including meloxicam and ibuprofen, can potentially cause liver damage, although such cases are less frequent. Liver toxicity can occur even in individuals without pre-existing liver problems, although it is not as common as other NSAID-related side effects.

Overdose Risk

You can overdose on meloxicam or ibuprofen if you consume too much of either medication. Because they’re both NSAIDs, the overdose symptoms are similar:[9]

  • Stomach upset
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Ulcers
  • Bleeding
  • Seizures
  • Kidney issues
  • Coma

An NSAID overdose may require medical attention. There’s no antidote to reverse an NSAID overdose, but supportive care can help keep the person stable and address any complications. While people can recover from NSAID overdoses with medical care, there’s a possibility of lasting liver or kidney damage.

Abuse Potential

Neither meloxicam nor ibuprofen are controlled substances or drugs of abuse or dependence. They can be misused, however.
For example, some people may take too much meloxicam or ibuprofen to manage their pain. This is common with people who suffer from chronic pain and believe taking more of the drug will be more effective. In some cases, people may take too many NSAIDs to deliberately overdose.

Ibuprofen, as an NSAID, does not produce euphoria or have a significant abuse potential on its own. However, combination medications that include an opioid (like codeine) and ibuprofen may be misused for the euphoric effects of the opioid component, not the ibuprofen.

While ibuprofen itself does not have abuse potential leading to euphoria, combination pain relievers that include ibuprofen and opioid components, like codeine, may have a risk of abuse due to the opioid content.

Additional resources you may find helpful:

Choosing the Right NSAID

Meloxicam and ibuprofen are similar NSAID medications that can effectively treat pain and inflammation. Meloxicam is a little simpler in that it only takes one dose a day, but ibuprofen is available with a prescription or over the counter.

Overall, these drugs are more similar than they are different. If you’re not sure which is right for you, speak to your doctor about your options. They may recommend one over the other because of your health history and preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions About Meloxicam and Ibuprofen

NSAIDs like meloxicam and ibuprofen provide similar pain relief for people with pain. However, you may notice a personal difference between them.

No, meloxicam is only available with a prescription from a healthcare provider. Ibuprofen is available over the counter, however.

No, it’s important not to mix meloxicam and ibuprofen. Combining the two increases the risk of kidney problems, stomach ulcers, and serious bleeding. If your pain is not well managed by one NSAID, speak to your doctor about your options.

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[1] Meloxicam – LiverTox – NCBI Bookshelf. (n.d.-c). Retrieved from on 2023, December 22.
[2] GoodRx. (n.d.). Meloxicam Dosage Guide: The most-prescribed meloxicam dosages. GoodRx. Retrieved from on 2023, December 22.
[3] GoodRx. (n.d.-a). Ibuprofen Dosage Guide: How many can I safely take?. GoodRx. Retrieved from on 2023, December 22.
[6][7][9] Pain relievers: Ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin. Pain Reliever Safety | Poison Control. (n.d.).

Last medically reviewed January 29, 2024.