Diclofenac is classified as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and is indicated for the treatment of mild-to-moderate pain. It is used to alleviate the symptoms of arthritis (e.g., osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis), including inflammation, swelling, stiffness, and joint pain.
This medication is also prescribed for ankylosing spondylitis, a type of arthritis that affects the spine’s joints, as well as for other painful conditions such as menstrual cramps. Diclofenac can also be used to treat acute migraine attacks, with or without aura, in adults. It does not prevent or reduce the frequency of migraine attacks.
Uses and Dosage
Take this medication orally, following the instructions provided by your healthcare provider, usually 2-4 times per day. You should consume the medication with a full glass of water (8 ounces/240 milliliters), unless your doctor advises otherwise.
Do not lie down for at least 10 minutes after ingesting the medication to prevent stomach upset. If you experience any stomach irritation, take the medication with food, milk, or an antacid. However, this may impede absorption and delay pain relief.
The tablets should be swallowed whole and not crushed, chewed, or broken as this may aggravate stomach discomfort. Since different brands and forms of this medication may have dissimilar effects, do not switch forms of diclofenac unless advised to do so by your physician.
The dose of the medication will depend on your medical condition, response to treatment, and other medications you may be taking. To minimize the risk of side effects, consume this medication at the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible period of time. Do not increase your dose or take the medication more often or for a longer duration than prescribed.
For certain conditions, such as arthritis, it may take up to two weeks of regular medication consumption before the full benefit is realized. If your condition worsens, inform your doctor immediately.
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention:
- continuing ringing or buzzing or other unexplained noise in the ears
- excess air or gas in the stomach or intestines
- hearing loss
- lack or loss of strength
- pain or burning in the throat
- passing gas
- burning, dry or itching eyes
- discharge, excessive tearing
- hair loss, thinning of the hair
- increased sensitivity of the skin to sunlight
- pain in the arms or legs
- redness, pain, swelling of the eye, eyelid, or inner lining of eyelid
- redness or other discoloration of the skin
- severe sunburn
Inform your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any serious side effects:
- acid or sour stomach
- bleeding gums
- blood in the urine or stools
- bloody or black, tarry stools
- burning while urinating
- chest pain
- clay-colored stools
- cloudy urine
- dark urine
- decrease in urine output or decrease in urine-concentrating ability
- feeling of indigestion
- frequent urge to urinate
- increased bleeding time
- itching skin or rash
- light-colored stools
- loss of appetite
- nausea and vomiting
- pain in the chest below the breastbone
- painful or difficult urination
- pale skin
- pinpoint red spots on the skin
- stomach bloating, burning, cramping, discomfort, upset, or pain
- sore throat
- sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
- swelling or inflammation of the mouth
- swollen glands
- trouble breathing
- unpleasant breath odor
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- upper right abdominal or stomach pain
- vomiting of blood or material that looks like coffee grounds
- weight loss
- yellow eyes and skin
Prior to taking diclofenac, disclose any allergies to this medication, aspirin, other NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and celecoxib), or any other allergies to your healthcare provider or pharmacist. Inactive ingredients in this medication may cause allergic reactions or other complications.
Prior to using this medication, you should provide your medical history to your healthcare provider or pharmacist. Disclose any previous history of asthma, including worsening of breathing after taking aspirin or other NSAIDs, blood disorders such as anemia and bleeding/clotting problems, growths in the nose such as nasal polyps, heart disease such as a previous heart attack, high blood pressure, liver disease, stroke, swelling (edema, fluid retention), and stomach/intestinal/esophageal issues such as bleeding, heartburn, and ulcers.
The use of NSAID medications such as diclofenac may result in kidney problems. Dehydration, heart failure, kidney disease, age, and certain medications may increase the likelihood of such problems. Ensure you consume sufficient fluids as recommended by your doctor to prevent dehydration and contact your doctor immediately if you experience unusual changes in urine color or volume.
This medication may cause drowsiness, dizziness, or blurred vision. Alcohol or cannabis may exacerbate these symptoms. Refrain from driving, operating machinery, or engaging in activities requiring clear vision or alertness until you can do so safely.
This medication may increase the risk of stomach bleeding. Daily use of alcohol and tobacco may further elevate this risk.
This medication may make you more sensitive to the sun, increasing the risk of sunburn or skin blisters/redness. To reduce the risk of such complications, limit sun exposure, avoid tanning beds and sunlamps, wear protective clothing and use sunscreen.
Elderly individuals may be at higher risk of stomach/intestinal bleeding, kidney problems, heart attack, and stroke while using this drug.
If you are of childbearing age, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your healthcare provider. Inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. This medication may harm an unborn baby and cause problems during normal labor/delivery. Its use is not recommended from 20 weeks of pregnancy until delivery. If necessary, the lowest effective dose should be used for the shortest duration of time.
This medication passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
Form and Strength
Voltaren is available in the following forms and strengths:
diclofenac delayed-release tablet:
Is Voltaren a strong painkiller?
Voltaren is more potent than NSAIDs like ibuprofen and non-opioid painkillers like Tylenol. It is less potent than opioid medications like codeine and morphine.
How quickly does Voltaren work?
Voltaren takes 20 to 30 minutes to work if you take it as tablets or capsules.