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What is diclofenac, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Diclofenac belongs to a class of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that are used for the treatment of mild to moderate pain, fever, and inflammation. Other members of this class include ibuprofen (Motrin), indomethacin (Indocin), nabumetone (Relafen), naproxen (Aleve) and several others. NSAIDs work by reducing the production of prostaglandins, chemicals that cause pain, fever and inflammation. NSAIDs block the enzyme that makes prostaglandins (cyclooxygenase), resulting in lower production of prostaglandins. As a consequence, inflammation, pain and fever are reduced. Since the response to different NSAIDs varies from patient to patient, it is not unusual for a doctor to try different NSAIDs for any given condition. The FDA approved diclofenac in July 1998.
What brand names are available for diclofenac?
Voltaren, Cataflam, Voltaren-XR, Cambia, Zipsor, Zorvolex
Is diclofenac available as a generic drug?
GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes
Do I need a prescription for diclofenac?
What are the side effects of diclofenac?
The most common side effects of diclofenac involve the gastrointestinal system, such as:
- abdominal burning,
- serious gastrointestinal bleeding, and
- liver toxicity.
Sometimes, stomach ulceration and bleeding can occur without any abdominal pain. Black tarry stools, weakness, and dizziness upon standing may be the only signs of internal bleeding. Rash, kidney impairment, ringing in the ears, and lightheadedness are also seen.
Other important side effects include:
People who are allergic to other NSAIDs should not use diclofenac. NSAIDs reduce the flow of blood to the kidneys and impair function of the kidneys. The impairment is most likely to occur in patients with already reduced kidney function or congestive heart failure, and use of NSAIDs in these patients should be done cautiously. Individuals with asthma are more likely to experience allergic reactions to diclofenac and other NSAIDs.
What is the dosage for diclofenac?
Diclofenac should be taken with food to reduce stomach upset. The recommended dose for most conditions is 100-200 mg daily. Dosing intervals are 2 to 4 times daily depending on the diclofenac formulation used and the condition being treated.
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Is diclofenac safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
It is not known whether diclofenac is excreted in breast milk.
What else should I know about diclofenac?
What preparations of diclofenac are available?
Tablets (delayed release): 25, 50 and 75 mg. Tablets (immediate release): 50 mg. Tablets (extended release): 100 mg. Capsule: 25 mg. Oral Solution: 50 mg
How should I keep diclofenac stored?
Diclofenac should not be stored above 30 C (86 F) and should be protected from moisture.
Diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, Voltaren-XR, Cambia) is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication prescribed to treat inflammation and pain caused by conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, tendinitis, bursitis, and menstrual cramps. Side effects, drug interactions, dosage, and pregnancy safety should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
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Ankylosing Spondylitis Quiz: Symptoms & Treatment
What is ankylosing spondylitis? Take this quiz to learn the causes, symptoms, and treatments for this painful disorder.
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Related Disease Conditions
Buildup of uric acid crystals in a joint causes gouty arthritis. Symptoms and signs include joint pain, swelling, heat, and redness, typically of a single joint. Gout may be treated with diet and lifestyle changes, as well as medication.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints, the tissue around the joints, as well as other organs in the body. Because it can affect multiple other organs of the body, rheumatoid arthritis is referred to as a systemic illness and is sometimes called rheumatoid disease. The 16 characteristic early RA signs and symptoms include the following. Anemia Both sides of the body affected (symmetric) Depression Fatigue Fever Joint deformity Joint pain Joint redness Joint stiffness Joint swelling Joint tenderness Joint warmth Limping Loss of joint function Loss of joint range of motion Many joints affected (polyarthritis)
Ankle Pain (Tendinitis)
Ankle pain is commonly due to a sprain or tendinitis. The severity of ankle sprains ranges from mild (which can resolve within 24 hours) to severe (which can require surgical repair). Tendinitis of the ankle can be caused by trauma or inflammation.
Bursitis of the knee results when any of the three fluid-filled sacs (bursae) become inflamed due to injury or strain. Symptoms and signs include pain, swelling, warmth, tenderness, and redness. Treatment of knee bursitis depends on whether infection is involved. If the knee bursa is not infected, knee bursitis may be treated with ice compresses, rest, and anti-inflammatory and pain medications.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis that causes chronic inflammation of the spine. The tendency to develop ankylosing spondylitis is genetically inherited. Treatment incorporates medications, physical therapy, and exercise.
A bursa is a fluid-filled sac found in the joints that cushions them. Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursae, most commonly caused by repetitive motion. Bursitis can be caused by a bacterial infection and should be treated with antibiotics. Doctors also recommend icing and resting the joint.
Heel spurs -- pointed, bony outgrowths of the heel -- cause localized soft-tissue inflammation and can be located at the back of the heel or under the heel, or beneath the sole of the foot. Heel spurs are treated with ice application and anti-inflammatory medications. Orthotics may also provide some relief.
Shoulder bursitis is inflammation of the shoulder bursa. Bursitis may be caused by injury, infection, or a rheumatic condition. Symptoms include pain, swelling, tenderness, and pain with movement of the shoulder joint. Treatment may involve ice compresses, rest, and anti-inflammatory medications and depends on whether there is an infection.
Phlebitis is the inflammation of a vein. Thrombophlebitis is when a blood clot causes the inflammation. Phlebitis can be superficial or deeper in the veins. A blood clot deep in a vein is deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Some of the common causes of phlebitis include prolonged inactivity, varicose veins, trauma to a vein, underlying cancers, clotting disorders, and other causes. Symptoms of phlebitis may be mild (pain, tenderness, redness, or bulging of a vein. Treatment of phlebitis depends on the cause.
Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis caused by inflammation, breakdown, and eventual loss of cartilage in the joints. Also known as degenerative arthritis, osteoarthritis can be caused by aging, heredity, and injury from trauma or disease.
Trigger Finger (Stenosing Tenosynovitis)
Trigger finger (stenosing tenosynovitis) is a condition in which a finger tries to snap closed while gripping. This painful condition is caused by inflammation or scarring around the digit's tendon. Anti-inflammatory medication, stretching, and ice are suitable treatments for trigger finger.
Pericarditis (Symptoms, ECG, Types, Causes, Treatment)
Pericarditis is the inflammation of the pericardial sac that surrounds the heart. The causes of pericarditis include injury from heart attack, heart surgery, trauma, viral or fungal infection, HIV, tumors, mixed connective tissue disease, metabolic disease, medication reactions, or unknown reasons. Treatment for pericarditis is generally medication, however, sometimes surgery is necessary.
Elbow pain is most often the result of tendinitis, which can affect the inner or outer elbow. Treatment includes ice, rest, and medication for inflammation. Inflammation, redness, warmth, swelling, tenderness, and decreased range of motion are other symptoms associated with elbow pain. Treatment for elbow pain depends upon the nature of the patient's underlying disease or condition.
Psoriatic arthritis is a disease that causes skin and joint inflammation. Symptoms and signs include painful, stiff, and swollen joints, tendinitis, and organ inflammation. Treatment involves anti-inflammatory medications and exercise.
Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs and Ulcers
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are prescribed medications for the treatment of inflammatory conditions. Examples of NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and more. One common side effect of NSAIDs is peptic ulcer (ulcers of the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum). Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precautions, and patient safety information should be reviewed prior to taking NSAIDs.
Migraine vs. Headache: Differences and Similarities
Headaches are the most common reason why a person goes to the doctor or other healthcare professional for treatment. There are different types of headaches, for example, migraine, tension, and cluster headaches. The most common type of headache is tension headache. Migraine is much less common. There are few similarities between migraine and other headaches, for example, the severity of the pain can be the same, mild, moderate, or severe; and they can occur on one side or both sides of the head. However, there are many differences between migraine and other types of headaches. Migraine headaches also have different names, for example, migraine with aura and menstrual migraine. Symptoms of migraine that usually aren't experienced by a person with another type of headache include nausea, vomiting, worsens with mild exercise, debilitating pain, eye pain, throbbing head pain. Migraine trigger include light, mild exercise, strong smells, certain foods like red wine, aged cheese, smoked meats, artificial sweeteners, chocolate, alcohol, and dairy products, menstrual period, stress, oversleeping, and changes in barometric pressure. Untreated migraine attacks usually last from 4 to 72 hours, but may last for weeks. Most headaches resolve within 24-48 hours. Doctors don't know exactly what causes migraine headaches; however, other headaches like tension headaches have more specific triggers and causes. Additional tests usually are required to diagnose migraine from other types of headaches, diseases, or other medical problems. Most headaches can be treated and cured with home remedies like essential oils, massage, and over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn) or ibuprofen (Advil, Midol, Motrin). Most headaches resolve with OTC and home remedy treatment, while your doctor may need to prescribe medication to treat your migraines. If you have the "worst headache of your life," seek medical care immediately.
Actinic keratoses are rough, scaly patches of skin that are considered precancerous and are due to sun exposure. Prevention is to cut sun exposure and wear sunscreen.
Non-Radiographic Axial Spondyloarthritis (nr-axSpA)
Non-radiographic spondyloarthritis (nr-axSpA) is an inflammatory arthritis that mainly affects the joints of the spine. Morning stiffness and back pain are the usual symptoms of nr-axSpA. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, exercise, and biologics are treatments for nr-axSpA.
Treatment & Diagnosis
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Medications & Supplements
- Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
- ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin)
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- celecoxib (Celebrex)
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- Drug Interactions
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- flurbiprofen (Ansaid)
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- fenoprofen (Nalfon)
- sulindac (Clinoril)
- diflunisal (Dolobid)
- choline magnesium salicylate, Trilisate
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- Side Effects of Arthrotec (diclofenac and misoprostol)
- valdecoxib, Bextra
Prevention & Wellness
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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.