Meloxicam - Everything You Need to Know

Meloxicam has anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic effects. These therapeutic actions happen due to the selective inhibition of COX-2. Continue reading to find out more.
Meloxicam - Everything You Need to Know
María Vijande

Reviewed and approved by the pharmacist María Vijande.

Written by María Vijande

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Meloxicam is an active substance that belongs to the group of analgesic, antipyretic and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Within this family, it’s also a part of the group of oxicams, a type of selective COX-2 inhibitor drugs.

These medications are for the treatment of moderate postoperative pain and inflammation in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. They can also be used to reduce fever. Doctors commonly prescribe them for both adults and children older than 2 years old.

What are COX enzymes?

A hand full of pills.

Meloxicam, like most NSAID drugs, has therapeutic effects, as well as adverse reactions, explained by a proposal made by the scientist Vane in 1971.

Vane said that this type of medication has the ability to inhibit the activity of an enzyme called COX. An enzyme is a molecule that promotes and allows the development of various body mechanisms.

COX enzymes are synthetase enzymes that convert arachidonic acid from cell membranes into unstable cyclic endoperoxides. These, in turn, transform into prostaglandins and thromboxanes, without affecting other molecules.

Within the COX family, there are several subtypes: COX-1, COX-2, and COX-3. The 1 and the 2 have the same structure and a similar molecular weight. The first one has a smaller channel and active site. This justifies that all COX-1 inhibitors are also COX-2 inhibitors, but not the other way around.

COX-3 is only present in the central nervous system, so its inhibition doesn’t have anti-inflammatory effects, which can occur with some NSAID drugs.

How does Meloxicam trigger its effect on the body?

As we said above, meloxicam has anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic effects. These therapeutic actions happen via the selective inhibition of COX-2.

As a result of this inhibition, the synthesis of prostaglandins and other substances related to inflammatory, febrile, and painful processes become blocked.

Prostaglandins are a set of substances derived from fatty acids. They affect and act on the various physiological processes of different organism systems, including the nervous system, smooth tissue, the blood, and the reproductive system.

Among the main functions of prostaglandins:

  • They mediate the inflammatory response
  • In addition, they stimulate pain in some nerve endings
  • They increase the secretion of gastric mucus and decrease the secretion of gastric acid
  • They cause the contraction of smooth muscles
  • Likewise, they intervene in the regulation of body temperature and also in the fever process
  • Finally, they control the decrease in blood pressure by promoting the elimination of substances from the kidneys

So, when the enzymes responsible for their synthesis inhibit it, then all these processes decrease and improve the symptoms they produce. It then creates the analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antipyretic effects.

In addition, various clinical trials showed that meloxicam is effective as an emergency contraceptive treatment.

Adverse reactions of Meloxicam

The inside of a medicine cabinet.

Meloxicam, like all medication on the market, isn’t exempt from producing a series of side effects a person must take into account when starting treatment with it.

In this sense, the most frequent adverse effects reported in clinical trials with meloxicam were those that affected the digestive system. The most serious reactions were bleeding and stomach perforations.

Some of the gastrointestinal adverse reactions observed most frequently were:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Dyspepsia
  • Flatulence
  • Nausea and vomiting


Meloxicam is a medication that belongs to the family of analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and non-steroidal antipyretic drugs. It’s mainly used for treating the pain and inflammation associated with diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. Doctors also prescribe it for fever.

This medication is a selective inhibitor of the COX-2 enzyme, and so it blocks the synthesis of prostaglandins. You must exercise caution during its administration. It’s important to always follow your doctor’s instructions, as this medication may trigger serious side effects such as gastrointestinal bleeding.

Consult your physician with any questions you might have and always follow their recommendations for its use in order to avoid health complications.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Jacobs, G. (2010). Meloxicam. In The Essence of Analgesia and Analgesics.
  • de Grauw, J. C., van de Lest, C. H. A., Brama, P. A. J., Rambags, B. P. B., & van Weeren, P. R. (2009). In vivo effects of meloxicam on inflammatory mediators, MMP activity and cartilage biomarkers in equine joints with acute synovitis. Equine Veterinary Journal.
  • Guillot, M., Moreau, M., Heit, M., Martel-Pelletier, J., Pelletier, J. P., & Troncy, E. (2013). Characterization of osteoarthritis in cats and meloxicam efficacy using objective chronic pain evaluation tools. Veterinary Journal.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.