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Diclofenac gel (Voltarol)

Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Dr Roger HendersonReviewed on 13.10.2023 | 4 minutes read
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Diclofenac sodium is an anti-inflammatory pain reliever. It comes in many different forms, including tablets, capsules, suppositories and rub-on gel (Voltarol), however, the only formulation available over-the-counter is the rub-on gel.

This is the strongest anti-inflammatory rub-on formulation available over the counter. It can start to work within 20 - 30 minutes after applying, but full anti-inflammatory effects can take up to a couple of days once applied consistently.

What is Voltarol?

Voltarol is the brand for a range of anti-inflammatory products that are available over the counter as they are non-steroidal. Voltarol is available as a gel or plaster in different strengths.

Voltarol gel 2 strengths are 1.16% and 2.32%. The higher-strength gel, Voltarol 12 Hour Joint Pain Relief, can be applied every 12 hours, whereas the lower-strength, Voltarol Back and Muscle Pain Relief, can be used 3 - 4 times a day.

Who are Diclofenac Gels Like Voltarol for?

Diclofenac gel is most suitable for people who have tried a rub-on gel-like ibuprofen and are still in some pain. This is specifically designed for painful musculoskeletal conditions, such as strains, sprains and back pain. Some people prefer a rub-on gel to a tablet.

As it comes in two strengths, it is important to decide whether it would be more useful or practical for you to apply the rub less often, only twice a day with the 2.32% strength. Or if you are able, and would like to apply it more often, 3 - 4 times a day with the lower strength product.

Voltarol Back and Muscle Pain Relief Gel can be used on your back and neck to help provide pain relief for the muscles in these areas.

How do Diclofenac gels work?

Diclofenac gels such as Volatrol are a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) from the same family as aspirin and naproxen. Because of this, make sure you aren't taking diclofenac alongside other anti-inflammatories, as this can upset your stomach.

Diclofenac's anti-inflammatory effect works by blocking the body's production of a substance called "prostaglandins", which are released in response to illness or injury. Prostaglandins can cause pain and inflammation to notify the person they are unwell. By stopping prostaglandin production, they can stop the pain, inflammation and even fever.

Diclofenac also has a minor antiplatelet effect, which means it stops the blood from clotting. Seek the advice of a pharmacist or doctor if you are on any medications that may affect bleeding.

How Long Does Voltarol Gel Take to Work?

Voltarol contains an effective nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine which is clinically proven to relieve muscle pain and pain from arthritis. Once you start using Voltarol gel, it will get to work immediately once it has been rubbed into your skin. You may start to feel relief within a few days of use and should feel significant pain relief within 7 days of continuous use.

Is Voltarol Any Good For Arthritis?

Voltarol 12 Hour Joint Pain Relief is suitable for providing temporary relief of arthritis pain in the hands, wrists, elbows, feet, ankles and knees. It can help make daily tasks that are impacted by arthritic pain less painful.

Should anyone avoid taking it?

Diclofenac is only for people aged over 14 years of age, and should not be taken for more than 7 days in a row. Like all medications, don't take them if you have previously had an allergic reaction to the medication, if you have severe kidney or liver problems, or if you have other medications or medical conditions where you would normally discuss with your doctor or pharmacist before starting something new.

If you are asthmatic and haven't had anti-inflammatories before, they can sometimes cause an acute asthma attack, so should be avoided. Do not take diclofenac if you are trying to get pregnant or are already pregnant, as there is not enough information about safety during pregnancy.

If you have a known stomach ulcer or inflammatory bowel disease, you should avoid taking diclofenac unless recommended by your doctor.

Are there any side-effects?

As with any medication, some people are bound to get some unwanted side effects. Some of the common ones include headaches, feeling dizzy, nausea and vomiting. Indigestion and heartburn are other common side effects, as diclofenac can irritate the lining of the stomach, especially when taken for more than a few days.

Read here about other topical pain relief gels.

FAQs about Voltarol Gel

Does Voltarol Contain Ibuprofen?

Voltarol does not contain ibuprofen. Diclofenac has different ingredients although it should not be used alongside ibuprofen as they are both nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID).

Can You Take Paracetamol With Voltarol Gel?

You can take paracetamol with Voltarol Gel to manage your pain but you should make sure you do not use other NSAIDs such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen at the same time. They are all from the same family of medication and taking them both at the same time would be classed as double dosing.

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 13.10.2023
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