Generic Name: diclofenac, Oral tablet

Voltaren-XR

All Brands

  • Voltaren-XR
SECTION 1 of 4

Highlights for diclofenac

Oral tablet
1

Diclofenac is an anti-inflammatory drug. It comes in other forms, including eye drops, powder packets, and transdermal gel, patch, and solution.

2

Talk to your doctor before taking diclofenac if you have heart disease or high blood pressure. It could make your condition worse.

3

Common side effects include stomach pain, nausea, and others.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION
  • fda warning

    FDA Warning See Details

  • increased blood pressure

    May cause increased blood pressure, puffiness, or water retention

  • liver function

    May affect some of your liver function tests See Details

  • allergic reaction

    May cause allergic reaction See Details

FDA Warning

Diclofenac has a Black Box Warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Though the medication can still be sold and used, a black box warning alerts doctors and patients to potentially dangerous effects.

Warning: Diclofenac is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). All NSAIDs can increase your risk of heart attack or stroke. This risk can go up the longer you use NSAIDs. Talk to your doctor before taking diclofenac if you have heart disease.

You shouldn’t take diclofenac before you have surgery, especially heart bypass surgery. Talk to your doctor if you take diclofenac and will have surgery soon.

NSAIDs like diclofenac can increase your risk of serious side effects, including stomach bleeding or ulcers. 

May affect some of your liver function tests

Your doctor should monitor liver function while you take diclofenac.

May cause allergic reaction

If you have an allergy to aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), talk to your doctor before taking diclofenac.

Drug Features

Diclofenac is a prescription drug. It is available in these forms: oral (capsules, tablets), eye drops, transdermal gel, transdermal patch, transdermal solution, and powder packets for oral solution.

Diclofenac is available in its generic form. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if the generic will work for you.

Why It's Used

Oral diclofenac is used to treat:

  • arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • mild to moderate pain
  • painful menstrual cramps

How It Works

Diclofenac is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).

The drug works by blocking a particular enzyme in your body. When the enzyme is blocked, your body decreases the amount of inflammatory chemicals it makes. This helps to reduce inflammation and pain.

SECTION 2 of 4

diclofenac Side Effects

Oral tablet

Most Common Side Effects

The most common side effects that occur with diclofenac include:

  • stomach pain

  • constipation

  • diarrhea

  • gas

  • itchy skin. Call your doctor if this is severe. It could be the sign of an allergic reaction.

  • heartburn

  • nausea

  • sleepiness. See how you feel before driving or operating machinery.

  • vomiting

Serious Side Effects

If you experience any of these serious side effects, call your doctor right away. If your symptoms are potentially life-threatening, or if you think you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

  • symptoms of allergic reaction, including itching, rash, breathing problems, or hives. If you’re allergic to aspirin or other NSAIDs, you may be allergic to diclofenac.

  • symptoms of edema, including swelling of the feet or ankles, increased blood pressure, ringing of the ears, or increased weight

  • symptoms of stomach ulcer or stomach bleeding, including very dark stools or blood in your stool

  • bruising more easily

Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Diclofenac may cause drowsiness.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 4

diclofenac May Interact with Other Medications

Oral tablet

Diclofenac can interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. That’s why your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. If you’re curious about how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Note: You can reduce your chances of drug interactions by having all of your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. That way, a pharmacist can check for possible drug interactions.

Alcohol Interaction

Avoid alcohol when taking this drug. Alcohol can increase your risk of stomach ulcers from taking diclofenac.

Medications That Might Interact with This Drug

Other NSAIDs

Diclofenac is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. (NSAID). Do not combine it with other NSAIDs unless directed by your doctor.

Examples of other NSAIDs are:

  • ketorolac
  • ibuprofen
  • naproxen
  • aspirin
  • celecoxib (Celebrex)
  • dexketoprofen

Drugs That Take Long to Clear

Diclofenac reduces pain, but it also affects chemicals that keep your kidneys running efficiently. This effect may make your kidneys take longer to filter out some drugs. This may increase their levels in your body and side effects.

Some of these include:

  • anticoagulants, such as warfarin
  • bisphosphonates, such as alendronate (Fosamax)
  • captopril, enalapril, and other diuretics that affect potassium
  • ciprofloxacin (Cipro) and other related antibiotics
  • enalapril
  • cyclosporine
  • dagibatran (Pradaxa)
  • digoxin
  • furosemide
  • haloperidol
  • hydrocodone
  • lithium
  • methotrexate
  • tacrolimus
  • tenofovir
  • vancomycin and other aminoglycosides (hospital IV antibiotics)

Other Drugs

Other drugs may increase the levels of diclofenac in your body.

Some of these include:

  • enalapril or captopril (angiotensin-converting enzyme  inhibitors)
  • losartan (Diovan) or other angiotensin II receptor blockers
  • cyclosporine
  • glucosamine
  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • some antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)
  • vitamin E

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.

People with high blood pressure or water retention

If you have high blood pressure or water retention, tell your doctor before taking diclofenac. Your heart may already be working hard and adding an NSAID can increase this workload.

People with ulcer or digestive bleeding

If you’ve had an ulcer or bleeding from your digestive system, ask your doctor before taking diclofenac. You’re at increased risk for another bleed.

People with a history of smoking, alcohol use

Smokers and those who drink alcohol regularly have an increased risk of ulcer from NSAIDs like diclofenac.

People with kidney disease, diuretics

If you have kidney disease or take diuretics (water pills), there’s a risk this drug can affect your kidneys’ ability to remove excess water from your body. Ask your doctor is diclofenac is the right drug for you.

People with asthma with aspirin reaction

If you have asthma and you react to aspirin, you could have a bad reaction to diclofenac. Talk to your doctor before taking the drug.

Pregnant women

Pregnancy category C/Pregnancy category D after 30 weeks of pregnancy

Diclofenac is a category D pregnancy drug after 30 weeks of pregnancy. Category D means two things:

  1. Studies show a risk of adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. The benefits of taking atenolol during pregnancy may outweigh the potential risks in certain cases.

With diclofenac, babies of women who have reached 30 weeks of pregnancy have had side effects from the drug, and there is an increased risk of miscarriage. Do not take diclofenac if you’re pregnant, unless your doctor advises you to.

Until the 30th week, diclofenac is a category C drug. That means that studies have shown that diclofenac can be a risk to the offspring of lab animals. However, not enough studies have been done to show risk in humans.

Women who are nursing

This drug passes into the breast milk, which means it can pass to a nursing child. This may lead to toxic effects for the child.

Breastfeeding isn’t recommended if you’re taking diclofenac.

For Seniors

Seniors are at higher risk for stomach problems, bleeding, water retention, and other side effects from diclofenac.

Seniors may also have kidneys that aren’t working at peak levels, so the drug can build up and cause more side effects.

When to call the doctor

If your pain doesn’t improve, or if the swelling, redness, and stiffness of your joint(s) don’t improve, call your doctor. The drug may not be working for you.

Allergies

If you have an allergy to aspirin or other similar non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, you could have an allergic reaction to diclofenac. Call your doctor right away if you have any signs of:

  • wheezing
  • trouble breathing
  • hives
  • itchy rash
SECTION 4 of 4

How to Take diclofenac (Dosage)

Oral tablet

All possible dosages and forms may not be included here. Your dose, form, and how often you take it will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What Are You Taking This Medication For?

Inflammation and pain from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis
Form: Oral Capsule
Strengths: 18 mg, 25 mg, and 35 mg
Form: Oral Tablet
Strength: 50 mg
Form: Oral delayed-release Tablet
Strengths: 25 mg, 50 mg, and 75 mg
Form: Oral 24-hour release Tablet
Strength: 100 mg
Adult Dosage (ages 18 years and older)

The immediate release forms of diclofenac are usually dosed 3 to 4 times a day and start at a dose of 25 mg.

The extended-release form is usually dosed once a day. The dose often starts at 75 mg per day.

Child Dosage (ages 0-17 years)

Dosage for people younger than 18 years has not been established.

Special Considerations

Seniors: If you are aged 65 years and older, your body may process this drug more slowly. Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose so that too much of this drug does not build up in your body. Too much of the drug in your body can be toxic.

Mild to moderate pain
Form: Oral Capsule
Strengths: 18 mg, 25 mg, and 35 mg
Form: Oral Tablet
Strength: 50 mg
Form: Oral delayed-release Tablet
Strengths: 25 mg, 50 mg, and 75 mg
Form: Oral 24-hour release Tablet
Strength: 100 mg
Adult Dosage (ages 18 years and older)

The immediate release forms of diclofenac are usually dosed 3 to 4 times a day and start at a dose of 25 mg.

The extended-release form is usually dosed once a day. The dose often starts at 75 mg per day.

Child Dosage (ages 0-17 years)

Dosage for people younger than 18 years has not been established.

Special Considerations

Seniors: If you are aged 65 years and older, your body may process this drug more slowly. Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose so that too much of this drug does not build up in your body. Too much of the drug in your body can be toxic.

Primary dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual period)
Form: Oral Capsule
Strengths: 18 mg, 25 mg, and 35 mg
Form: Oral Tablet
Strength: 50 mg
Form: Oral delayed-release Tablet
Strengths: 25 mg, 50 mg, and 75 mg
Form: Oral 24-hour release Tablet
Strength: 100 mg
Adult Dosage (ages 18 years and older)

The immediate release forms of diclofenac are usually dosed 3 to 4 times a day and start at a dose of 25 mg.

The extended-release form is usually dosed once a day. The dose often starts at 75 mg per day.

Child Dosage (ages 0-17 years)

Dosage for people younger than 18 years has not been established.

Special Considerations

Seniors: If you are aged 65 years and older, your body may process this drug more slowly. Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose so that too much of this drug does not build up in your body. Too much of the drug in your body can be toxic.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Make sure to take diclofenac exactly as prescribed by your doctor.

If You Stop

If you stop taking diclofenac and still have swelling and pain, you could have joint or muscle damage that doesn’t heal.

If You Don’t Take It on Schedule

If you forget to take it on time, you may have more pain. However, you can still benefit from taking the next dose on schedule.

If You Miss a Dose

If you miss a dose of diclofenac, and if it’s nearly time for the next dose, wait until then and take a single dose.

Don’t try to double a dose to catch up. You could have much worse side effects or greater risk of a stomach ulcer or stomach bleeding.

How Can I Tell if the Drug is Working?

You should have less pain and swelling when you take diclofenac.

Diclofenac is a short-term drug treatment.

Diclofenac should be used for the shortest possible time to treat the problem.

If your doctor wants you to take it for a long time, you should be evaluated periodically for liver function, kidney function, and blood pressure.

Always take diclofenac with food

Eat something that coats your stomach, such as a meal or at least a glass of milk. Start eating, take your diclofenac, and then finish your meal.

Don’t crush or cut diclofenac tablets

Many of them are timed-release, while others have a film coating and can’t be cut.

If you can’t swallow the tablets or have stomach side effects, your doctor may give you a topical version or a different treatment.

Store the tablets at room temperature: 68–77°F (20–25°C)

Store the immediate release, extended release, and delayed release tablets at room temperature: 68–77°F (20–25°C).

Delayed release tablets can absorb moisture, so keep them in a tightly closed bottle.

Note: Be careful of moist environments, including bathrooms. To keep drugs away from moisture, store them somewhere other than your bathroom and any other damp location.

Clinical Monitoring

If you take diclofenac for a long time, your doctor should do blood tests to check your kidney and liver function at least once a year. 

You should check your own blood pressure occasionally.

Sun Sensitivity

You may have increased sensitivity to the sun while taking diclofenac.

Use a SPF 30 or greater sunscreen to protect your skin.

What does the pill look like?

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Are There Any Alternatives?

Diclofenac is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). There are many NSAIDs available both over-the-counter and by prescription.

Ask your pharmacist or doctor to recommend alternatives. If you can’t take NSAIDS due to stomach or water retention issues, there may be other kinds of treatment that can help you.


Show Sources

Content developed in collaboration with Susan J. Bliss, RPh, MBA

Medically reviewed by Stacey Boudreaux, PharmD and Alan Carter, PharmD on February 3, 2015

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Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.

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