What is Voltaren?

Voltaren is a prescription brand-name form of diclofenac sodium.  Voltaren can come in various forms. It is available as a cream/gel, as both standard and extended-release oral tablets, and less frequently as a suppository.  Voltaren Gel or cream is our primary focus of interest in this article. It is FDA-approved for treating osteoarthritis pain in joints responsive to topical treatment, including the knees, hands, wrists, feet, and elbows.

Voltaren cream can be used in  treating osteoarthritis pain in joints responsive to topical treatmentVoltaren cream can be used to treat elbow pain

What is Voltaren cream or Voltaren Gel Used to Treat?

Voltaren gel/cream is a topical anti-inflammatory used to provide pain relief from arthritis. It is helpful for various joints of the body, including the knees, ankles, feet, elbows, wrists, and hands. Voltaren gel/cream is not currently approved for the direct relief of muscle pain or back pain.

Is Voltaren a Painkiller?

Voltaren is not an opiate-based pain killer such as oxycodone or Percocet. It works by decreasing substances in the body that directly cause joint pain and inflammation. Voltaren, also known as Diclofenac, is very similar to Ibuprofen.  Furthermore, both Voltaren and Ibuprofen are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also known as NSAIDs, and both drugs are used to treat pain, fever, and inflammation.

How Does Voltaren Work?

Voltaren gel/cream needs to be applied to the skin directly over the affected area.Voltaren cream/gel can be applied directly to the skin.

Voltaren comes in both topical and oral forms. As a topical gel, a smaller amount of diclofenac from Voltaren Gel reaches the bloodstream compared with the oral form of diclofenac.  Voltaren gel/cream needs to be applied to the skin directly over the affected area.  Voltaren gel/cream then works by pooling diclofenac on the skin's surface. The drug then penetrates the underlying tissues, directly targeting the inflamed tissues around the joint to reduce swelling, relieve pain, and generally support the healing process.

When Should You Use Voltaren Gel/Cream?

Gently rub Voltaren gel/cream over the affected site. A typical dosage of 2-4g should be applied in a circular shape and can be used 3-4 times per day.  Unless told otherwise, you can use this gel for up to 21 days.  Be sure to avoid getting this medication in your eyes, mouth, open wounds, or any infected wound areas. Unless you're not applying it to your hand joints, be sure to wash your hands immediately after application. Additionally, make sure to store at 20-25°C (68-77°F). Be sure to avoid freezing.

Precautions to consider with Voltaren gel/cream:

  • Make sure to apply only on clean, dry skin without rashes, cuts, or infections.
  • Do not heat the treated joint(s) prior.
  • Do not shower or rinse the treated area for at least one hour
  • Do not place a band-aid over the treated area.
  • Make sure to avoid sunlight or the tanning bed after the application.
  • Do not apply together with another product.

There is no difference between the prescription version of Voltaren gel/cream and the over-the-counter version. The new over-the-counter version of Voltaren gel/cream will include 1% of the active ingredient, diclofenac, which is the same strength that previously required a prescription.

Even though Voltaren Gel and Cream is now available over the counter, it is still recommended that you ask your doctor if it is right for you.  All medications, including over-the-counter medications, have a risk of side effects.  Your doctor can help you to know if you have any increased risk due to your health history.

By: Justin Carmel, PT, DPT

physical therapy can be helpful to correct pain in the ankle or foot.Physical therapy on foot

If you experience pain that will not go away with the use of Voltaren, JOI can help! The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute offers specialized doctors and therapists to help you feel better. To schedule with JOI Rehab for physical therapy, please call 904-858-7045

To schedule an appointment with a JOI Orthopedic Specialist, call 904-JOI-2000, schedule online, or click below.

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