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Diclofenac is used in the treatment of pain, swelling and inflammation in a wide range of
disorders of the joints and muscles, and of the tendons; such conditions include osteoarthritis,
rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, gout, sprains, strains, other soft tissue injuries,
fractures, tendonitis, and backache. It is also useful following dental and/or minor surgery, and
may be given for migraine headaches.
What is Diclofenac?
Diclofenac is one of a class of medicines known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
(NSAIDs). This medicine may be either diclofenac sodium or diclofenac potassium. Diclofenac
relieves pain and reduces inflammation by blocking an enzyme called COX (cyclo-oxygenase),
which plays a role in producing prostaglandins. When we are injured or have certain medical
conditions, our body makes prostaglandins which cause pain and inflammation.
How to use Diclofenac
Diclofenac is made in a variety of forms, including tablets (standard, rapid, modified-release,
enteric-coated), gels, spray, suppositories, and injections. Tablets are taken whole with water,
preferably while you are having a meal or just after. Another medicine may be prescribed with
diclofenac tablets to protect your stomach. Gels are rubbed into the affected area and sprays
are sprayed onto the relevant skin site. Suppositories are gently inserted through the anus into
the rectum (back passage) and pushed as high up as possible using your finger. Diclofenac
injections may be given intramuscularly or as an infusion into a vein.
Your doctor will select a form, strength, and dose of diclofenac effective in the treatment of your
condition. The dose is usually the lowest taken for the shortest length of time. People of 65
years and older or who are underweight may have to take lower doses. Never take an extra
dose because you forgot to take your medicine; take it when you remember but if it is too close
to the following dose, leave it until you are next due a dose. Do not take more than advised, and
seek medical attention quickly if you accidently do so.
Who can use Diclofenac?
Diclofenac is generally for adult-use only. While the gel and sprays may be used by children
aged 14 years or more, other preparations are not recommended for children.
Reasons for you not using diclofenac include allergy or hypersensitivity to any of the
constituents of the diclofenac preparation or other NSAIDs (shown by facial/mouth swelling,
breathing troubles, and skin rash). Your gastrointestinal tract can be affected so you cannot take
diclofenac if you suffer with stomach or duodenal ulcers or bleeds anywhere in the gut.
Additionally, do not take diclofenac if you have kidney or liver problems, heart and blood vessel
disease (e.g., heart attack, stroke), or are pregnant or trying to get pregnant or (potentially)
breastfeeding. Additionally, if you have any of the following conditions, mention them to the
doctor before taking this medicine: disorders of the stomach, bowel, liver, kidneys, blood, or
heart, or you have asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, stroke, diabetes or
sugar intolerance, lupus, or you smoke.
Your doctor will be interested about all your other medicines, including those that are classified
as NSAIDs, anti-inflammatories, or steroids, or you take medicines to treat: stomach or bowel
problems, diabetes, mental problems (e.g. lithium), depression (e.g., SSRIs), inflammatory
conditions (e.g., methotrexate), infections (e.g., trimethoprim, quinolone, voriconizole), blood
clotting, heart disorders (e.g., digoxin, beta blockers), cholesterol-lowering agents, seizures
(e.g., phenytoin), or cancer, or after a transplant, or to terminate a pregnancy.
Diclofenac Side Effects
Stomach troubles, feeling sick and being sick, bleeding in your digestive tract (as shown by
vomiting blood or very dark faeces), skin rash/itch/redness/peeling, facial/lip swelling, changes
to your urine output and colour, wheezing/difficulty with breathing, more easily bruise, and
increases in sore throat and infection rates are all side effects that could be serious and need to
be reported to your doctor. Most people do not get any side effects whatsoever.
Commonly, gastric problems (e.g., feeling sick, being sick, stomach ache, indigestion, and
flatuance), headache, feeling dizzy, skin rashes, and increases in your blood liver enzyme levels
occur. Rarely, more serious gastric problems (e.g., bleeding or ulcers in the stomach,
inflammation, blood in faeces, diarrhoea), itchy skin rashes, low blood pressure, ankle swelling,
and liver disorders (e.g., jaundice) occur. Changes in your vision, hearing, sleep pattern, mood,
mental state, and memory; and tremor/seizures, lung/colon/blood vessel inflammation, high
blood pressure, heart disorders, and kidney disorders may be experienced very rarely.