What Is the Difference Between Mobic (Meloxicam) and Ibuprofen?

Pros and Cons for Treating Arthritis Pain


Ibuprofen and Mobic (meloxicam) are both nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that treat inflammation and pain. Brand names for ibuprofen are Advil and Motrin. Mobic is available by prescription only, while ibuprofen can be found over-the-counter (OTC)

Your healthcare provider might recommend Mobic or ibuprofen to treat arthritis pain and inflammation. These drugs work in similar ways, but they also have differences in their strength (meloxicam is a stronger anti-inflammatory), their dosage, and more.

This article explains similarities and differences between Mobic and ibuprofen. It discusses the safety of taking these two NSAIDs at the same time, the side effects, and why one may work better than the other in certain circumstances. 

Pharmacist and client discuss medications

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Which Is Better for Arthritis Pain?

Mobic is approved by the FDA for treating certain types of arthritis, including OA and RA. It is designed to decrease inflammation, which reduces pain, stiffness, and swelling. Mobic is also used to treat ankylosing spondylitis (AS), a type of arthritis that mainly affects the spine.

Ibuprofen is available without a prescription, but healthcare providers can prescribe higher doses for people experiencing flare-ups (periods of high disease activity) from inflammatory arthritis (RA, AS, etc.). Healthcare providers will sometimes prescribe ibuprofen in combination with paracetamol (acetaminophen) or a compound analgesic.

While Mobic is a much stronger drug, studies on back pain show that both meloxicam and ibuprofen have similar pain reduction effects. A 2016 review of studies looked at 13 studies to determine if NSAIDs were more effective than other comparable treatments for chronic low pain, and if so, which type of NSAID was more effective.

Six of the 13 studies showed that NSAIDs were more effective than a placebo for pain intensity. NSAIDs were slightly more effective than a placebo for disability, but that effect was modest and there is little evidence to back this up. In the end, the researchers determined there were no efficacy differences between different NSAIDs.

How Ibuprofen and Mobic Are Similar

Mobic and ibuprofen are considered non-selective NSAIDs. NSAIDs decrease the production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are substances that promote pain, fever, and inflammation throughout the body. By blocking prostaglandins, these symptoms are reduced.

Non-selective means they inhibit two types of cyclooxygenase enzymes, COX-1 and COX-2, that are responsible for the production of prostaglandin.COX-1 also offers beneficial stomach effects, including protecting the stomach’s lining from the effects of acids and digestive enzymes.

It is recommended that both drugs be taken at the lowest effective doses. With Mobic, the average dose is 7.5 milligrams (mg) per day. For ibuprofen, the recommendation is the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time.

Is It Safe to Take Ibuprofen and Mobic Together?

Taking Mobic and ibuprofen together doesn't add a benefit, and you should only take one NSAID pain reliever at a time unless your healthcare provider says otherwise. Taking two NSAIDs may increase your risk for serious digestive system or cardiac side effects. If you need more pain control with either Mobic or ibuprofen, take acetaminophen or another drug from a different class.

Ibuprofen is used to treat mild to moderate pain and inflammation from osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). Ibuprofen can also treat other conditions, including dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps).  

Mobic is often prescribed to treat chronic inflammation associated with OA, RA, and JIA.

How Ibuprofen and Mobic Are Different

Just as they are similar, ibuprofen and Mobic are different. For one, Mobic is a much stronger drug than ibuprofen. That is why it is available only as a prescription. Mobic is long-acting and often used to treat chronic arthritis.

A second difference is that Meloxicam is taken only once a day. Ibuprofen can be taken up to four times a day, although the effects of extended-release ibuprofen can last from 12 to 24 hours.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved ibuprofen for treating many different types of pain, including toothaches, menstrual cramps, muscle aches, back pain, and more. It has also been approved to treat mild to moderate pain and inflammation from all types of arthritis.

Some studies have suggested that the risk for gastrointestinal (GI) problems (gastric ulcers and GI bleeds) associated with meloxicam is higher than for other NSAIDs including ibuprofen, aceclofenac, and celecoxib.

Older NSAIDs, like meloxicam, do not have good long-term evidence behind them for reducing serious GI complications (perforations, ulcers, and gastric bleeding), whereas COX-2 inhibitors do.

Meloxicam might also present with a higher risk for myocardial infractions (heart attacks) in people who have cardiac risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and smoking.

Meloxicam and Ibuprofen: What's the Difference?
  Meloxicam  Ibuprofen
Prescription Yes, a prescription is required No, available over-the-counter
Strength Stronger than ibuprofen, with longer action Not as strong as Mobic, though providers may up dosage
Uses FDA approved for ankylosing spondylitis and certain types of arthritis Approved for quite a few conditions, as well as arthritis pain
Risks May have higher risk of GI and cardiovascular complications than ibuprofen Presents GI and heart-related risks, especially at higher doses over longer times
Dosage 7.5 milligrams (mg) per day Lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time

NSAID Warnings

All NSAIDs can cause stomach-related side effects. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of heartburn or indigestion. Your healthcare provider might recommend taking a different type of NSAIDs or prescribe a proton pump inhibitor to protect your stomach.

There are black box warnings (the highest level) for NSAIDs related to gastrointestinal risk, including for the risk of stomach ulcers and bleeding.

When to Call Your Healthcare Provider

Side effects are common with medications. Most are temporary and will go away after taking the medication for a few weeks.

You should contact your healthcare provider about serious side effects right away. Serious side effects might include:

  • GI or urinary: Black or bloody stools, bloody or cloudy urine, severe stomach pain, vomiting blood or material that looks like coffee grounds, inability to pass urine or changes in the amount of urine passed, unusual weight gain, or jaundice
  • Head, vision, or hearing issues: Blurred vision, ringing of the ears, sensitivity to light, bad headaches, muscle weakness, trouble speaking or thinking, and balance issues
  • Allergic reaction: Severe rash or hives, red, peeling skin, itching
  • Fluid retention: Swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue, around the ankles, in the feet, hands, or around the eyes
  • Clotting systems: Unexplained bruising or bleeding
  • Respiratory: Wheezing, trouble breathing, or unusual cough
  • Heart: Chest pain, rapid heartbeat, or palpitations
  • General: Fatigue, feeling weak, flu-like symptoms

If you are concerned that side effects are affecting your daily life or health, or if you want to stop the medication because of side effects, call your healthcare provider right away.

A Word From Verywell

Mobic and ibuprofen are both effective treatments for treating pain and joint inflammation. However, these medicines do come with risks, including side effects and the potential for medical complications. Make sure you take NSAIDs exactly as they are prescribed by your healthcare provider and only for short periods. For OTC NSAIDs, make sure you take them according to the labeling.

14 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Lana Barhum
Lana Barhum has been a freelance medical writer since 2009. She shares advice on living well with chronic disease.