Can I Take Meloxicam With Ibuprofen? Safe NSAID Medication Practices

Medically Reviewed By:

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu, M.D., M.S.

Last medically reviewed March 11, 2024

Can I Take Meloxicam With Ibuprofen?

Key Points

  • Meloxicam and ibuprofen are NSAID pain relievers that block pain-signaling chemicals in your brain.
  • Ibuprofen can be obtained over the counter and via prescription, whereas meloxicam is available only by prescription.
  • Adverse effects of these medications and other NSAIDs include gastrointestinal issues, kidney issues, and heart issues.
  • Like all NSAIDs, meloxicam and ibuprofen should not be taken together as this can increase the risk of possible health issues and adverse effects.
  • Other pain relievers can be combined with NSAID medications, but you should always consult your physician before adding to or changing your medication regimen.

Both meloxicam and ibuprofen are NSAID medications. As a classification, these can lead to gastrointestinal issues, and it is not recommended to mix two drugs of the same type at the same time.

NSAID Medications: How do they work?

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are a classification of drugs used to treat inflammation, pain, and fever. NSAIDs work by blocking an enzyme in your brain called cyclooxygenase or COX.[1] When this enzyme is inhibited, it reduces the production of hormones related to pain perception. NSAID medications include meloxicam and ibuprofen, aspirin, and topical creams.

Adverse Effects of NSAIDs

While they are successful at treating the perception of pain caused by a range of ailments such as tooth pain and hangover, NSAID medications are associated with some adverse effects that can impact multiple body systems. Common adverse effects include:[2]

  • Gastrointestinal Issues: Reduced production of the COX hormone (which protects the stomach lining) can damage the gastric system.
  • Kidney Issues: COX-1 and COX-2 help regulate kidney function. Someone with kidney issues may be at greater risk of developing acute renal dysfunction.
  • Heart Issues: NSAID use can increase the risk of heart attack, irregular heartbeat, and blood clots.
  • Other Rare Adverse Effects: Patients who have liver issues may be at higher risk of liver damage. The same is true for patients with GI ulcers or bleeding disorders.

These adverse effects are consistent among NSAID medications, and the chief reason they should not be combined is that these effects may worsen.

Meloxicam Drug Facts

Sold under the brand name Mobic, meloxicam is a long-acting NSAID. This prescription-only medication blocks prostaglandins, which cause pain and inflammation.[3]

Meloxicam is prescribed to treat primarily chronic conditions like arthritis but is also beneficial for those suffering from osteoarthritis, joint pain, rheumatoid arthritis, moderate to severe pain, and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.[4]

Meloxicam doses include 30 mg/ML (intravenous or IV use), 10 and 5 mg oral capsules, 7.5 mg/5 mL oral suspension, and 15 or 7.5 mg oral tablets. It’s taken once daily and can relieve pain 2 to 3 hours after onset.[5]

Ibuprofen Drug Facts

Ibuprofen is also an NSAID medication but can be obtained over-the-counter (OTC) under brand names that include Advil, Motrin, and Midol. Higher doses of ibuprofen can also be prescribed in higher doses.

Similar to other NSAIDs, ibuprofen blocks the enzymes that signal pain to alleviate the experience of pain.[6] In most cases, ibuprofen is taken to relieve the painful symptoms of osteoarthritis, inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis, mild to moderate pain, and dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps).

Over-the-counter ibuprofen is available in 200 mg tablets and more in prescription doses, up to 800 mg. The recommended dose is 200-400 mg but not to exceed 1200 mg per day for OTC medications and 3200 for prescription formulas.[7]

Ibuprofen Drug Facts

Similarities Between Meloxicam and Ibruprofen

As part of the NSAID drug classification, meloxicam and ibuprofen have many similarities:[8][9]

  • Risks and Warnings: Both medications publish potential risks related to heart issues, stomach bleeding, and pregnancy complications.
  • Drug Interactions: Meloxicam and ibuprofen indicate they should not be taken together or with heart medication, other NSAIDs, blood thinners, and some antidepressants.
  • Side Effects: Both non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs claim potential side effects that include increased risk of heart attack or stroke, kidney issues, and gastrointestinal issues.
  • Usage: Both meloxicam and ibuprofen are used to treat pain of different kinds, specifically arthritic pain (juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis) and swelling.

Differences Between Ibuprofen and Meloxicam

Despite being from the same drug classification, there are some subtle differences in these two medications, including:

  • Age For Use: Meloxicam is not appropriate for children under 2, whereas ibuprofen can be administered as young as 6 months old.[10][11]
  • Administration: Ibuprofen is available in tablets, capsules, and oral suspension, but meloxicam also has an intravenous (IV) application.
  • Additional Uses: In addition to treating rheumatoid arthritis pain, ibuprofen is also used to treat mild pain (toothache, headache, back pain), fever, and menstrual cramps.

Why Taking Meloxicam with Ibruprofen Isn’t Recommended

As detailed above, both meloxicam and ibuprofen are NSAID medications, and this type of drug can lead to gastrointestinal issues. Taken together, it can increase the risk of negative effects and health issues.

If you are already taking one or the other and are not finding relief, speak to your doctor. They may be able to recommend or prescribe alternate pain relief options that do not have the same risks or interactions.

Taking Other Pain Relievers With NSAIDs like Ibuprofen

It is not uncommon for different types of pain medications to be used in combination together to support comprehensive or continual relief. Ibuprofen can be taken with paracetamol (acetaminophen) as they work differently and can complement each other for pain relief. However, caution is advised when combining ibuprofen with other medications, including NSAIDs and opioids like codeine, due to potential risks of adverse effects. Always consult a healthcare professional before combining medications.

Some pre-combined pain reliever options are even available over the counter. For example, Advil sells a “Dual Action” formula for back pain that combines ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Consult your physician before mixing medications of any type.

Disclaimer: These are general recommendations based on widely available medication research, but they are not intended to be medical advice. Consult your primary doctor before making any changes to your medication routine. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is 15 mg of meloxicam stronger than 800 mg of ibuprofen?

Due to the different formulas, ibuprofen and meloxicam are not directly interchangeable. These NSAID medications are available in different doses and have different administration instructions. In addition, how a medication affects you may not be the same as someone else’s experience. Consider varying factors like medical history, type of pain, presence of any other substances, and genetic makeup.

Is meloxicam or ibuprofen better?

They are both NSAID medications that accomplish much the same thing by blocking pain-signaling pathways in your brain to alleviate pain. Which one is better for you will depend on what kind of pain you’re experiencing and other biological factors.

What are the side effects of Meloxicam?

Meloxicam is associated with several common side effects, including: [12]

  • Heartburn
  • Gas
  • Indigestion
  • Diarrhea

Can you mix ibuprofen with other herbal supplements?

Unfortunately, most supplements are not as regulated as prescribed medications, so knowing exactly how they will interact is nearly impossible. Mixing supplements and substances is generally not recommended, and ginkgo biloba has been specifically designated as unsafe to mix with ibuprofen as it can increase the risk of bleeding.[13]

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[1][2]Ghlichloo, I. (2023, May 1). Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (nsaids). StatPearls [Internet].

[3][4]U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2020a, January 10). Meloxicam. LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury [Internet].

[5][8][10]Meloxicam uses, dosage, side effects & warnings. (n.d.-i).

[6]Ngo, V. T. H. (2023, May 29). Ibuprofen. StatPearls [Internet].

[7][9][11]Ibuprofen Dosage Guide + max dose, adjustments. (n.d.-g).

[12]Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2024d, March 1). Meloxicam (oral route) side effects. Mayo Clinic.

[13]NHS. (n.d.-c). Taking or using ibuprofen with other medicines and herbal supplements. NHS choices.