Meloxicam is an NSAID effective for treating arthritis. Unfortunately, meloxicam can be abused if it is not taken as prescribed. Learn about meloxicam side effects to help identify drug abuse. 

Meloxicam is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to treat patients with chronic pain, arthritis, and inflammation. Meloxicam can also be used to treat post-operative pain. Meloxicam has two common brand names: Mobic and Vivlodex.

Meloxicam works by inhibiting the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) pathway, the same cellular pathway that aspirin and ibuprofen inhibit. As with many pain relievers, there is the potential for misuse if individuals do not take their medication as prescribed. Meloxicam has a long list of side effects which range from relatively minor to those that require medical attention, particularly in cases of abuse or overdose.

Symptoms of Meloxicam Use

What are the symptoms of meloxicam abuse? In some cases, it may be challenging to tell that a person is abusing meloxicam versus using it as intended. This difficulty is because meloxicam has an extensive list of physical and psychological symptoms associated with its prescribed use. Meloxicam’s side effects range from extremely rare to relatively common. Meloxicam has over sixty different side effects for its prescribed use.

Physical Symptoms of Meloxicam

Meloxicam use comes with extensive physical symptoms associated with its use. One of these symptoms is weight gain. Many physical symptoms of meloxicam use will not require medical treatment and include:

  • Stomach issues like diarrhea, gas, heartburn, bloating, constipation or indigestion
  • Minor changes in appetite
  • Minor changes in taste
  • Minor changes in vision
  • Tingling sensations throughout the body
  • Itchy or burning eyes
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Dry mouth
  • Minor loss of hair
  • Minor loss of hearing
  • Hot flashes
  • Slight lightheadedness
  • Slight dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Tiredness

Psychological Symptoms of Meloxicam

In addition to physical symptoms, an individual that uses prescription meloxicam can experience negative psychological symptoms. In some instances, using another NSAID would be recommended to alleviate these symptoms. Some psychological symptoms of meloxicam use that do not require immediate medical attention include:

  • Having weird dreams
  • Feeling anxious
  • Feeling confused
  • Feeling discouraged
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling irritable
  • Feeling depressed generally
  • Feeling nervous
  • Having trouble concentrating on tasks
  • Having trouble falling or staying asleep

Other Meloxicam Side Effects

Meloxicam has many other potential side effects. If an individual experiences any side effects that are less common or rare, they should contact a medical professional or seek emergency help right away. Dangerous meloxicam side effects that require immediate medical attention include:

  • Seeing blood in urine, or having cloudy or dark urine
  • Experiencing blurry vision
  • Experiencing bleeding gums
  • Developing mouth sores
  • Experiencing chest tightening or a bad cough/other breathing issues
  • Fever or chills
  • Excessive stomach cramping that does not improve after use
  • Changes in how much an individual urinates or experiencing painful urination
  • Having severe headaches
  • Developing hives
  • Displaying elevated blood pressure
  • Being more sensitive to the sun
  • Changes in how thirsty an individual is after taking meloxicam
  • Developing skin discoloration or other related problems
  • Developing seizures or tremors (shakiness)
  • Developing swollen glands
  • Changes in how easily a person bruises or bleeds
  • Problems swallowing

It is best to get a medical opinion after starting a medication if symptoms worsen or do not improve over time.

Effects of Long-Term Meloxicam Use

What are the side effects of long-term meloxicam use? Unfortunately, using meloxicam long-term can have negative effects on an individual’s health. Many NSAIDs are associated with the development of stomach ulcers. While serious adverse stomach events are rare with meloxicam use, minor stomach issues may arise with long-term use.

Additionally, using meloxicam long-term may impact kidney function. Thus, a patient with known kidney issues would be recommended to use meloxicam at lower doses for chronic pain or inflammation. Current research is unclear as to whether meloxicam negatively affects the cardiovascular system and liver function.

Overall, with proper use, meloxicam can be a safe and effective way to treat chronic pain and inflammatory conditions. Since meloxicam is not an opioid or narcotic, the potential for addiction is much less. An individual that takes meloxicam will not feel the “high” they would experience if they took a narcotic prescription. It is likely that in the future, other NSAIDs like meloxicam may be used instead of opioid painkillers to lessen the likelihood of patients becoming addicted to pain medication after surgery.

Signs of Meloxicam Addiction

How can someone recognize if their loved one has a meloxicam addiction? Meloxicam use becomes abuse when a patient no longer needs the medication for treating pain or inflammation and continues to use it anyway or misuses their prescription. If a person uses meloxicam illegally (e.g., buys it off the street or uses someone else’s prescription), this also counts as drug abuse.

If patients had previous problems with opioid addiction or other prescription medications, medical professionals will likely not prescribe meloxicam. Psychological dependence on a drug like meloxicam, rather than physical dependence, can be as challenging as physical dependence.

If an individual on meloxicam alone, or in combination with alcohol and other drugs, exhibits overdose signs, contact emergency services immediately. Signs of a person experiencing a meloxicam overdose include:

  • Blue lips, skin, and fingernails
  • Severe chest pain
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Severe throat pain, together with chest and stomach pain
  • Unexplainable (rapid) period of gaining weight
  • Experiencing seizures
  • Displaying an irregular heartbeat (slower or faster than usual)
  • Swelling in the facial region

Meloxicam Addiction Intervention

If you or someone you love struggles with meloxicam addiction, deciding to receive treatment can be an arduous process. In some cases, an intervention may be necessary if a person does not choose to receive treatment on their own. Having a caring support system is helpful during the treatment process.

An intervention specialist can help an individual struggling with addiction and their loved ones feel positive, secure and open with one another about the best way to proceed with treatment. Knowing the timing, who will attend the intervention and what will be said are critical when planning an intervention. The decision to receive treatment for a meloxicam addiction falls on the affected individual. There are many options besides inpatient rehabilitation that an individual can consider.

If you or a loved one struggle with a meloxicam addiction, The Recovery Village can help. Contact a representative today to learn about treatment options for meloxicam addiction and other co-occurring mental health conditions

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Editor – Thomas Christiansen
With over a decade of content experience, Tom produces and edits research articles, news and blog posts produced for Advanced Recovery Systems. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Bonnie Bullock, PHD
Bonnie is a medical communications specialist at Boston Strategic Partners, a global health industry consulting firm. Her recent work in mental health includes developing conference materials for clinical studies in mood disorders and copy-editing clinical manuscripts. Read more

Bekker, Alex; Kloepping, Caroline; Collingwood, Shemille. “Meloxicam in the management of post-oper[…]n: Narrative review.” J Anaesthesiol Clin Pharmacol, December 2018. Accessed June 11, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.