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Diclofenac

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Diclofenac is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, used for pain relief. It works by stopping the effects of hormones that cause pain and inflammation.
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What is Diclofenac?

Diclofenac Sodium is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine used for the treatment of inflammation and swelling. It can also provide pain relief, and help reduce other symptoms caused by various joint conditions and health problems.

These include rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and gout, as well as sprains and strains, back pain, soft tissue injuries and migraines. Diclofenac is also used to treat ankylosing spondylitis, which is a condition causing inflammation of the spine.

Diclofenac is available on prescription, and you must have been prescribed Diclofenac before you can order it. Diclofenac plasters and gel are available from your pharmacist. It's also possible to buy Diclofenac online through an online doctor or pharmacy.

Diclofenac is known by several brand names - Fenactol, Econac, Dicloflex and Voltarol. You can read the patient information leaflet for Diclofenac here.

Diclofenac is one of a group of medicines called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines. It works by inhibiting a particular type of hormone that causes pain and inflammation. Therefore, the sensation of pain and inflammation is reduced or eliminated.

Diclofenac usually takes 20 to 30 minutes to work if it is taken as tablets. Suppositories usually take several hours to work.

Diclofenac is also manufactured as a gel, for administration on the skin. This usually takes up to two days to become effective.

Before you take it

Diclofenac can be taken by most people, including most adults and some children.

Diclofenac is typically only prescribed to children for joint problems. It can be taken by children over one year old as tablets, suppositories and capsules.

Diclofenac is unsuitable for you if you have an allergy to aspirin, if you have high blood pressure or if you've ever shown any symptoms of heart failure, liver disease or kidney disease. It may also not be suitable for long term use - your doctor may suggest a different NSAID, such as naproxen or ibuprofen.

Diclofenac may be unsuitable for people with diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure. You should not take Diclofenac without consulting your doctor in this case.

You should not take Diclofenac if you have a history of internal bleeding, if you've ever had a stroke, or have a blood clotting disorder. Diclofenac is not suitable for anyone who has had an allergic reaction to any kind of non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) or medicines in the past.

If you're pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding, you need to inform your doctor before taking Diclofenac. Taking this medicine can increase the risk of miscarriage. If used during the first and last trimesters of pregnancy, it can interfere with labour and delivery, and can possibly cause harm to your baby. It is not recommended to use diclofenac while pregnant.

It’s safe to take other painkillers such as paracetamol and codeine with Diclofenac.

If you're in any doubt, you must consult your pharmacist or doctor.

Dosage Instructions

You should take Diclofenac as prescribed by your doctor or pharmacist.

A typical dose is between 75 mg and 150 mg per day, divided between three doses. Your doctor or pharmacist will advise you on how many tablets to take and exactly when to take them.

Slow-release Diclofenac can also be prescribed for those who are experiencing constant pain. It's normal to take this medication either once or twice a day.

If you're elderly, a doctor may require you take a lower dosage and may monitor you closely to observe the medicine's effects. For children, the child's weight must be taken into account so that they are given the correct dosage. Your doctor will support you in calculating this.

Take Diclofenac by swallowing the pill whole with water. Do not crush, chew or suck it. Suppositories should be inserted into your back passage roughly three centimetres deep, and then allowed to melt. The medicine is absorbed through the lining of the skin.

For Diclofenac gel, release a small amount of gel from the tube or dispenser and rub it onto the affected area. It will feel cool on your skin - wash your hands afterwards. Depending on the gel's strength, you will typically need to use it 2-4 times a day. Don't use it more than 4 times in a 24 hour period.

If you need any more information on diclofenac gel, contact us, or read the patient information leaflet for Diclofenac.

Common Side Effects of Diclofenac

There are numerous side effects related to taking Diclofenac. Diclofenac can cause an allergic reaction in some patients. It is important that you stop taking Diclofenac and immediately seek medical advice if you experience any of the following common side effects of Diclofenac:

  • Skin rash, peeling, blistering, itching or swelling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Symptoms of asthma
  • Runny nose or sneezing

Diclofenac has the potential to cause mild to moderate side effects in some patients. You should not necessarily stop taking the medication if you experience any of the following, but you must tell your doctor if the symptoms do not go away.


  • Drowsiness or feeling dizzy
  • Nausea (feeling sick)
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stomach ache (this is made more likely by taking Diclofenac with another NSAID)
  • Stomach Ulcers (this is made more likely by smoking and drinking alcohol)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight Loss

Diclofenac can also have more serious side effects. These are more rare, but you should seek medical attention straight away if you experience any of the following:


  • Blood in your stool, or vomit (this indicates that the medicine is causing bleeding in your stomach)
  • Your skin or eyes turn yellow (this can indicate liver problems)
  • You experience breathlessness, swollen legs or ankles or tiredness (this can indicate heart failure or heart attack)
  • You experience weakness on one side of your body, accompanied by problems speaking, loss of balance and trouble seeing properly. (This indicates you are having a stroke and you must call for an ambulance immediately.)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

I’m pregnant. Can I take Diclofenac?

It’s not recommended to take Diclofenac when you’re pregnant. This is because there is a risk of harm to your unborn baby. Diclofenac is also not recommended if you are breastfeeding - other treatments may be more suitable, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. You can find the best solution for you in consultation with your doctor.

Do I need a prescription?

This depends. Since 2015, Diclofenac tablets are now only available with a prescription. You must have a valid prescription before you are able to purchase Diclofenac tablets. However, you can still buy Diclofenac gel from any major retailer or online pharmacy.

What happens if I miss a dose?

If you miss your dose of diclofenac, take it as soon as you remember, but don't take it if it's close to the usual time of your next dose. In this case, treat it as a missed dose carry on as normal. Do not double up to make up for a missed dose.

What happens if I take too much?

Diclofenac can be harmful in large amounts. An overdose can cause symptoms such as severe headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea and stomach problems. You must contact your doctor or go your local hospital or A&E centre if you suspect you have overdosed on Diclofenac.

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Dosage Instructions Take with or after food.