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Meloxicam for Psoriatic Arthritis: 9 Things To Consider

Posted on January 17, 2023
Medically reviewed by
Zeba Faroqui, M.D.
Article written by
Maureen McNulty

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are some of the most common treatments used to treat psoriatic arthritis (PsA). NSAIDs can treat PsA symptoms like pain and swelling.

Some NSAIDs are available over the counter and others require a prescription. Meloxicam (sold under the brand names Mobic and Vivlodex) is a stronger NSAID that you can get through your doctor.

Meloxicam is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat other conditions that affect the joints, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Although it is not officially approved for PsA, meloxicam is often recommended by doctors for this condition. Several members of MyPsoriasisTeam have reported using this medication, either currently or previously.

If you have PsA, you may have the option to try multiple pain medications. If meloxicam is suitable for you, you may want to learn more about what it is like to take this medication. Here are some things to consider:

1. Meloxicam Can Help Relieve PsA Symptoms

Meloxicam can’t cure PsA — you will still have the condition even after taking this medication. However, it can lessen symptoms, including joint pain, aching, swelling, and stiffness. These symptoms will come back if you stop taking meloxicam.

There hasn’t been much research to help pinpoint exactly how often NSAIDs work in treating PsA symptoms. However, many people say they find these medications helpful. “Meloxicam works well,” commented one MyPsoriasisTeam member.

2. Meloxicam Can Be Used in Older Adults

Some pain medications aren’t safe when used by elderly individuals. Meloxicam doesn’t usually cause serious problems in this population, although it may lead to a slightly increased risk of conditions that affect the heart, stomach, or kidneys.

3. Meloxicam Shouldn’t Be Combined With Certain Drugs

When combined, certain drugs can interact, leading to additional side effects or causing the medications to become less effective. If you want to use meloxicam, first tell your doctor about any other medications you’re taking, including:

  • Blood thinners
  • Steroids
  • Antidepressants
  • Medications that lower blood pressure levels, including beta-blockers or ACE inhibitors
  • Diuretics, also called water pills
  • Cyclosporine (Gengraf), a medication that weakens the immune system
  • Other NSAIDs, including ibuprofen and naproxen

There may be other medications that you take over the counter or are not prescribed by a physician. Make your rheumatologist aware of these medications as well. If you are taking these drugs or any others that could interact with meloxicam, your doctor may recommend changing your treatment plan or giving you lower doses of certain medications.

4. NSAIDs Aren’t for Everyone

NSAIDs generally work well and are safe, but they may be more likely to cause problems for people with other conditions.

NSAIDs can make you more likely to experience a heart attack or stroke. The overall risk is small, but your doctor may recommend avoiding these drugs if you have certain characteristics that increase your risk, such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Recent heart attack
  • History of cigarette smoking
  • High blood pressure or high cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes

It’s also dangerous to take meloxicam before or after undergoing a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) — a procedure used to treat clogged blood vessels. If you need this surgery, ask your health care team when you should stop taking NSAIDs before the procedure and when it is safe to start them back up again.

Your doctor may also advise against meloxicam if you have other health conditions, including asthma, liver disease, peptic ulcer disease, kidney disease, or anemia.

5. Meloxicam Can Cause Side Effects

If you use meloxicam, you may notice common side effects such as a sore throat, diarrhea, constipation, or gas, which can lead to increased burping or flatulence.

Meloxicam can sometimes cause other side effects that can be signs of a severe problem. Tell your doctor right away if you experience:

  • Fever or chills
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Rash
  • Blisters or peeling skin
  • Itching
  • Swelling in your face, mouth, or eyes
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swallowing problems
  • Nausea
  • Pain or swelling in your abdomen
  • Back pain
  • A fast heartbeat
  • Swelling in your feet or legs
  • Jaundice (yellowish-appearing skin or eyes)
  • Pain during urination
  • Blood in your urine

To reduce your risk of side effects, use your medication exactly as recommended by your doctor. You are more likely to experience problems if you use higher doses, take meloxicam more often than directed, or don’t follow other medical advice when using these drugs.

6. Meloxicam May Lead to Complications

Meloxicam may lead to long-term complications — additional health issues that arise during a first disease or treatment.

Meloxicam slightly increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Get emergency medical care if you notice heart attack symptoms like chest pain or pressure, breathing difficulties, sweating, nausea, or pain in your arms, neck, back, or jaw. You should also keep an eye out for stroke symptoms, including weakness in part of your body, slurred speech, or numbness or drooping on one side of your face.

NSAIDs like meloxicam can also damage tissues of the digestive system, leading to stomach ulcers or bleeding. “I had issues with meloxicam,” said one member. “I think it hurt my stomach.”

7. Other Painkillers May Be an Option

You may want to weigh meloxicam’s risks and benefits against those of other possible PsA treatments.

Ask your doctor about using other NSAIDs. Over-the-counter drugs in this category include ibuprofen (sold as Motrin and Advil) and naproxen (Aleve). You can also use acetaminophen (Tylenol) as an over-the-counter pain reliever, but this medication is not an NSAID and does not reduce joint inflammation.

You can also ask your doctor about other prescription NSAID options such as celecoxib (Celebrex), fenoprofen (Nalfon), diclofenac (Voltaren), or ketorolac tromethamine (Toradol). Many strong NSAIDs can harm your stomach, but celecoxib is less likely to lead to stomach issues.

If NSAIDs don’t help control your symptoms, your doctor may switch you to a different type of medication called a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD), which can also help lessen pain and swelling.

Talk to your rheumatologist if your treatment plan isn’t working. “I’ve been on meloxicam daily for over a year, but really do not find that it helps,” said a MyPsoriasisTeam member. “I just switched to Celebrex and am hoping that I have better results with it.” Another shared that this drug wasn’t working well. “I decided to stop taking meloxicam and went back to three Advil every four to six hours.” Do not make medication changes without informing your rheumatologist. They need to be aware of what you are taking to prevent any medication interactions or other complications.

8. You May Also Need Other PsA Treatments Besides NSAIDs

Meloxicam can relieve symptoms but doesn’t actually affect your underlying disease. For this, you will need other PsA treatments.

DMARDs such as methotrexate (sold as Otrexup, Rasuvo, and Trexall), sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), and cyclosporine (Neoral) can help with certain PsA symptoms and can also affect the underlying disease processes. DMARDs can prevent your joints and tissues from further damage.

Severe PsA can be treated with biologic medications. Biologics can also help slow down the course of your disease and prevent new joint damage from taking place.

9. Meloxicam Is Often Used With Other PsA Treatments

Meloxicam can often be used with additional PsA and psoriasis treatment options to relieve symptoms while controlling your disease.

One MyPsoriasisTeam member explained, “I’m on several topical creams/ointments, meloxicam, and sulfasalazine.” Another shared, “I just took my gabapentin, Tylenol, and meloxicam.”

Talk With Others Who Understand

On MyPsoriasisTeam, the social network for people with psoriasis and their loved ones, more than 113,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis.

Have you tried meloxicam for psoriatic arthritis? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on MyPsoriasisTeam.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Zeba Faroqui, M.D. earned her medical degree from the SUNY Downstate College of Medicine. Learn more about her here.
Maureen McNulty studied molecular genetics and English at Ohio State University. Learn more about her here.

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