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Voltaren is the brand name for Diclofenac which is an analgesic medicine. An analgesic is a painkiller which is used to relieve pain and can sometimes reduce swelling or inflammation too. More information

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Voltaren is an anti-inflammatory medicine that is used to manage pain and inflammation of the muscles and joints. It can also be used for the relief of severe migraines and other forms of pain such as period pain. The active ingredient in Voltaren is Diclofenac. 

This medication is available as a gel, tablets, liquid capsules or patches and is suitable for adults and children aged 14 years and over (note the gel should not be used by children under 18). 

What is Voltaren? 

Voltaren is the brand name for Diclofenac which is an analgesic medicine. An analgesic is a painkiller which is used to relieve pain and can sometimes reduce swelling or inflammation too. 

This medication is part of the NSAID group of medicines, which stands for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These can reduce pain and inflammation and decrease fever by reducing the body’s production of prostaglandins, which come from the body’s enzyme cycloxgenase. Prostaglandins can cause pain, inflammation and swelling and Voltaren can prevent the body making them so the pain is reduced.      

Pain occurs when something is wrong with the body. Inflammation happens when the tissues of the affected area become damaged and inflamed. When this happens we feel pain and movement is restricted due to pain. Moving when a part of the body is damaged can also cause further problems. Voltaren helps to heal a painful or inflamed area. 

As well as both relieving pain and inflammation, Voltaren can help movement in stiff joints (particularly in people with arthritis) allowing them to continue with their daily activities more easily. 

Voltaren comes in different forms: gel, tablets, liquid capsules and patches and is fast-acting to give rapid pain relief. 

  • Voltaren Emulgel (adults only) is a gel that is rubbed onto the painful area;  
  • Voltaren K tablets and liquid capsules (for adults and children aged 14 and over) can be taken for pain and inflammation. 

Voltaren gel penetrates the skin and delivers Diclofenac to the painful area, giving fast relief. It works directly on the localised area of the body that needs treatment, so it is not spread to other areas where it is not needed. Voltaren feels cool on the skin and is not sticky or greasy. 

Voltaren K tablets and liquid capsules give temporary relief of acute pain and inflammation.  

It is important to understand why pain is occurring and what has caused it as well as treating the symptoms. You should see your doctor if you are suffering from pain or inflammation to ensure you are taking the best medication for your individual situation. 

It should be noted that Voltaren is not a cure for painful conditions, but it can relieve the symptoms.           

Voltaren gel is a good solution for people who cannot take oral painkillers that often upset the stomach. 

When is Voltaren used? 

Voltaren is used for many kinds of pain and inflammation. It is a common treatment for some sports injuries and can also relieve the pain of arthritis. It can also be used to ease severe migraines and painful periods (menstruation). 

Uses of Voltaren: 

  • Muscle strains; 
  • Back pain; 
  • Joint pain; 
  • Tendon and ligament strains; 
  • Sprains; 
  • Injury pain; 
  • Osteoarthritis; 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis; 
  • Pain caused by colds and flu; 
  • Dental pain; 
  • Period pain; 
  • Tennis elbow; 
  • Migraine; 
  • Period pain. 

Voltaren is often used to relieve the pain of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, which are the two most common types of arthritis. Arthritis causes pain in the joints and is common in people of 45 years old and over but can sometimes appear in younger people. 

Osteoarthritis can be managed with an anti-inflammatory medication such as Voltaren although this is not a treatment. This disease affects the joints as the cartilage protecting the bone disintegrates. This causes the bone to become inflamed and can lead to pain. 

Rheumatoid arthritis is when the body’s immune system begins to attack the joints which causes inflammation and pain. More women than men tend to get this disease and it can be hereditary. The pain and discomfort this form of arthritis causes can also be managed with Voltaren. 

If you have or suspect you have arthritis you should also see your doctor in conjunction with using over-.the-counter products to manage the symptoms. 

Voltaren is most effective for pain, inflammation or joints that are just below the surface of the skin (i.e. not underneath the muscle) as it dilutes as it is absorbed deep into the body tissue.  

How do you use Voltaren? 

Voltaren comes in several different forms, including gel, tablets, liquid capsules and patches (which are often known as pain management patches). Before using this product you should consider which form is right for you. The tablets can sometimes cause stomach disorders so you may find the gel is better for you. Note that children under 14 should not use Voltaren gel. 

Voltaren gel and tablets should be used as follows: 

  • Voltaren gel - wash your hands before and after use. The gel is applied topically (on the skin’s surface). Spread a thin layer (a pea-sized amount) of the gel over the affected area and rub into the skin gently. Do not cover the area with a plaster or bandage as this could impede its effectiveness. Voltaren gel is usually used twice a day during the morning and evening; 
  • Voltaren K tablets – swallow the tablets whole with a glass of water. Do not crush or chew the tablets before taking them.  

What dosages are there? 

Voltaren is used for short-term pain relief. It should not be used for the long-term treatment or relief of pain and the lowest effective dose should be taken for the shortest period of time. If you are experiencing continued pain and Voltaren is not helping your symptoms you should discuss this with your doctor.  

The usual dosages of Voltaren are: 

  • Voltaren Emulgel - 3-4 applications each day for up to 2 weeks; 
  • Voltaren K tablets – one 25mg tablet or two 12.5mg tablets up to three times a day. You should not take more than three 25mg tablets or six 12.5mg tablets per day.  

If you miss a dose do not take extra Voltaren to make up for the missed dose but wait until the next scheduled dose time and take the usual amount. 

What are the side effects of Voltaren? 

As with all medication, Voltaren gel, tablets or capsules may give some people side effects as we all react to medication in different ways. Some of the possible side effects that could occur when using Voltaren are: 

Voltaren gel: 

  • Skin irritation; 
  • Skin discolouration (redness); 
  • Raised blood pressure 

Voltaren K tablets: 

Note that if you suffer from asthma your body is more likely to react to Voltaren and cause wheeze or even an asthma attack. This medication should not be used in asthmatics without you doctor’s advice. 

The side effects above are given for your information only and you may not experience any of them when you take Voltaren. For a full list of possible side effects please read the package leaflet carefully. 

If you have any serious side effects from taking Voltaren you should see a doctor immediately. 

When shouldn’t you use Voltaren? 

It is important to note that you should not use Voltaren if you: 

  • Are allergic to any of the ingredients listed on the package leaflet; 
  • Are allergic to aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS); 
  • Have had an asthma attack after taking NSAIDS or aspirin; 
  • You are allergic to Diclofenac. 
  • You should not use Voltaren gel if: 
  • You are pregnant or planning to become pregnant; 
  • You are breastfeeding. 

You should not use Voltaren K tablets if: 

  • You have a gastric or duodenal ulcer; 
  • You suffer from a liver or kidney condition; 
  • You have had gastrointestinal bleeding; 
  • You have had heart failure or a stroke; 
  • You take anticoagulants (to help prevent blood clots); 
  • You are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding. 

Voltaren is not suitable for use as a long-term treatment for pain and inflammation as if taken over a long period of time it can increase the risk of heart problems and intestinal bleeding.  

You should not combine aspirin or NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) with Voltaren. Note that many over-the-counter cold and flu medicines contain aspirin so check with a pharmacist before taking them if you are using Voltaren as there could be an interaction between the two medications. 

This product should not be used immediately before or after heart bypass surgery or a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG). 

Does Voltaren interact with other medications? 

Any medication can react with another so it is important to tell your pharmacist if you are taking other medicines (including herbal medicines and vitamins) before you take Voltaren.  

You should not drink alcohol if you are taking Voltaren tablets or capsules as this can cause stomach bleeding. 

It is also important to tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking anti-depressant medication and plan to take Voltaren as the two can interact. 

Where can you buy Voltaren? 

You can buy Voltaren over the counter in Europe. You do not need a prescription for it. 

Can I get  Voltaren without a prescription?  

Yes, you can get Voltaren without a prescription in Europe. 


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Assessed by:

Dr Imran Malik, General practitioner
Registration number: GMC: 4741365

Dr Imran Malik studied undergraduate medicine at King's College University in Central London and clinical studies at the prestigious King's College Hospital. He graduated with a MBBS degree in 2000 and went on to gain postgraduate memberships with the Royal Society of Medicine and also General Practice in 2006.