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Ibuprofen vs. Meloxicam: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 19, 2023
Ibuprofen is a non-prescription NSAID used for pain and inflammation, while meloxicam is a prescription NSAID primarily for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Key Differences

Ibuprofen is a common non-prescription drug, part of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) class, designed to treat pain, fever, and inflammation. In contrast, meloxicam, although also an NSAID, is a prescription drug mainly prescribed for chronic conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Over-the-counter varieties of ibuprofen can be found under several brand names or as a generic and are used for temporary ailments like headaches or menstrual cramps. Meloxicam, being a longer-acting NSAID, is typically taken once daily and targets more persistent pain and inflammation.
Many people are familiar with ibuprofen and have used it as a remedy for various ailments, given its over-the-counter status. Meloxicam, being a prescription drug, is recommended by physicians for specific conditions and requires medical guidance for its consumption.
Potential side effects are associated with both ibuprofen and meloxicam, including gastrointestinal issues, given their NSAID classification. However, meloxicam is often chosen for long-term use because it's believed to have a lower risk of some side effects compared to other NSAIDs.
Ibuprofen can be taken as needed, often multiple times a day, while meloxicam is typically a once-a-day medication due to its longer duration of action. Though both are NSAIDs, their use-cases, availability, and dosing differ significantly.

Comparison Chart

Prescription Status

Non-prescription, over-the-counter (OTC).

Primary Use

Pain, fever, inflammation.
Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis.

Frequency of Dosage

Can be taken multiple times a day.
Typically once daily.


Found under various brand names and as generic.
Available under specific brand names and as generic.

Duration of Action

Shorter-acting, requires multiple doses for all-day relief.
Longer-acting, usually provides all-day relief with a single dose.

Ibuprofen and Meloxicam Definitions


Ibuprofen helps reduce pain, fever, and inflammation.
For my fever, the doctor recommended ibuprofen.


Meloxicam offers pain relief and reduces inflammation.
Thanks to meloxicam, I can move without too much pain.


Ibuprofen can be taken orally in tablet or liquid form.
I prefer liquid ibuprofen because it's easier to swallow.


Meloxicam usually provides relief with a once-daily dosage.
I take meloxicam every morning as my doctor advised.


Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).
I took ibuprofen for my headache.


Meloxicam is designed for long-term use for chronic conditions.
He's been on meloxicam for several years to manage his rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.


Ibuprofen is often a go-to remedy for common aches and pains.
After spraining my ankle, I relied on ibuprofen for pain relief.


Meloxicam is a prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).
The doctor prescribed meloxicam for my arthritis pain.


Ibuprofen is available without a prescription in most places.
I bought some ibuprofen at the local pharmacy.


Meloxicam is mainly used for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
My grandmother takes meloxicam for her osteoarthritis.


A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, C13H18O2, commonly used for its analgesic and antipyretic properties.


A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, C14H13N3O4S, used to treat osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.


(pharmaceutical drug) A synthetic compound used widely as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory drug.


(pharmaceutical drug) A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug of the oxicam class (trademark Mobic), used to relieve the symptoms of arthritis and primary dysmenorrhea and as an analgesic.


(rare) To treat with ibuprofen; to administer ibuprofen to.


A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine used to relieve the pain of arthritis and as an analgesic and antipyretic; Advil and Motrin and Nuprin are trademarks of brands of ibuprofen tablets.


A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine (trade names Advil and Motrin and Nuprin) used to relieve the pain of arthritis and as an analgesic and antipyretic


Can I buy ibuprofen without a prescription?

Yes, ibuprofen is typically available over-the-counter.

Is ibuprofen an NSAID?

Yes, ibuprofen is a type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).

Is meloxicam stronger than ibuprofen?

Meloxicam is a prescription drug designed for specific conditions, making it "stronger" in some contexts.

Is meloxicam suitable for acute pain relief?

Meloxicam is primarily for chronic conditions but can provide acute pain relief.

Should I take ibuprofen with food?

It's often recommended to reduce the risk of stomach upset.

Can I take ibuprofen for a cold?

Ibuprofen can alleviate some symptoms of a cold, such as fever and aches.

What conditions is meloxicam primarily prescribed for?

Meloxicam is primarily prescribed for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

How does meloxicam work in the body?

Like other NSAIDs, meloxicam works by reducing substances in the body that cause inflammation.

Is it safe to take meloxicam daily?

When prescribed by a physician, it's typically taken daily, but always consult your doctor about any concerns.

What's the maximum dose of ibuprofen I can take in a day?

For adults, it's generally up to 1200mg over-the-counter, but always follow dosing recommendations.

How often should I take ibuprofen?

Follow the dosing instructions on the label or as prescribed by a physician.

Are there alternatives to meloxicam for arthritis?

Yes, there are various NSAIDs and other medications for arthritis.

How does meloxicam differ from other NSAIDs?

Meloxicam has a longer duration of action and is prescription-only, primarily for chronic conditions.

Can I drink alcohol with ibuprofen?

It's not advised, as it can increase the risk of stomach bleeding.

Can I give meloxicam to my pet?

Only if prescribed by a veterinarian.

Is there a risk of side effects with ibuprofen?

Yes, like all medications, ibuprofen can have side effects.

Is meloxicam a long-term medication?

Yes, meloxicam is often prescribed for long-term use in managing chronic conditions.

Can I take ibuprofen for menstrual cramps?

Yes, ibuprofen can help alleviate menstrual cramps.

Can meloxicam cause weight gain?

Weight changes aren't a common side effect, but some people might experience weight gain.

How quickly does ibuprofen work?

Typically, it starts working within 20-30 minutes of ingestion.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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