Meloxicam vs Tramadol: Differences, Similarities and Interactions

In this blog post, we will compare Meloxicam and Tramadol, two drugs used for relieving pain. We will explore the two drugs separately, consider their potential combined use and the potential interactions between Meloxicam and Tramadol.
Frederika Malichová

Frederika Malichová

Neuroscientist at the University Of Cambridge.

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​Meloxicam vs Tramadol: Key Differences

Both Meloxicam and Tramadol are used to treat pain. Meloxicam is an NSAID used specifically for treating pain and inflammation from arthritis. Tramadol is an opioid analgesic treating any moderate or severe pain.

Meloxicam is typically used for arthritis-related pain, while Tramadol is used for various types of moderate to severe pain, including post-surgery pain, chronic pain, and neuropathic pain.

This also relates to the differences in their mechanism of action, while Meloxicam works by reducing inflammation, Tramadol alters the perception of pain in the brain and blocks the pain signals at the spinal level.

In terms of the side effects, Meloxicam may cause:

  • stomachache,
  • nausea,
  • dizziness,
  • rash.

On the other hand, Tramadol can cause unwanted side effects such as:

  • dizziness,
  • drowsiness,
  • loss of appetite,
  • constipation,
  • or nausea .

What Is Meloxicam?

Meloxicam is a drug from the oxicam family of drugs. It is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). [1, 2, 3, 4].

Meloxicam inhibits cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX-2), which is an enzyme involved in inflammation [1, 2, 3, 4].

Meloxicam is usually prescribed for the management of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis (a special type of arthritis), and juvenile idiopathic arthritis [2, 3, 5].

This drug is also effective in treating acute exacerbations of the above-mentioned conditions [2, 3, 5]

The administration of meloxicam is through different forms. Typically it is used once a day either as an oral tablet or as a rectal suppository [1, 6, 7]. Its plasma half-life is approximately 20 hours [1, 6, 7].

As many other drugs, Meloxican too has side effects. However, these of are usually milder than other non-selective NSAIDs. In particular, it causes fewer gastrointestinal side effects [3, 5].

However, when using meloxicam, it is recommended to inform your healthcare provider, as it may interact with other drugs [8].

Interestingly, in the US, meloxicam is sold under a variety of names like Mobic and Vivlodex [9].

What Is Tramadol?

Tramadol is a type of drug belonging to the family of opioids [10]. It is a synthetic medication, which means that it is made in the lab and not derived from natural sources. This does not however mean that the drug is more or less dangerous than others [10].

Tramadol is used to treat moderate to severe pain in adults acting as an opioid analgesic. It works in the brain and changes how your body feels and responds to pain [11, 12].

In addition to treating pain, it can be also prescribed off-label for premature ejaculation and restless leg syndrome [10].

Tramadol is available in two forms extended and immediate release formula. The immediate release formula should only be used for less than a week at a time [10].

Tramadol is known also under different brand names like Ulram, Ultram ER (extended-release), and Conzip. When sold in combination with acetaminophen as a generic, the brain name used is Ultracet [10].

Can Meloxicam And Tramadol Interact?

There may not be sufficient evidence to answer exactly whether meloxicam and tramadol can interact. The available scientific studies do not specifically address the interaction between these two medications but:

Interestingly, a rat study investigating the effects of tramadol in combination with metamizole (another pain-relieving drug) found an enhanced antinociceptive effect. However, this effect decreased by 53% after repeated doses [13].

In conclusion, while there's no specific evidence regarding the interaction between meloxicam and tramadol it may lead to mild interactions [].

It's crucial to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new medication or combining medications.

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Frederika Malichová

Frederika Malichová

Frederika is a postgraduate researcher at the University of Cambridge, where she investigates new biomarkers for Frontotemporal Dementia and other tauopathies. Her research has been published at prestigious conferences such as the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2023. She obtained her BSc in Biomedical Sciences from UCL, where she worked closely with the UK Dementia Research Institute.