What Is Voltaren Gel?

By Faith Davies

Voltaren gel is a brand name for the topical form of the prescription medication, diclofenac sodium. As a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, doctors commonly prescribe Voltaren gel for relief of pain and inflammation.

How it Works

When applied to your skin, Voltaren enters your bloodstream through your pores. Once inside your body, Voltaren works by inhibiting the production of chemicals known as prostaglandins, which contribute to pain and inflammation.

Use

Doctors normally prescribe Voltaren gel to treat pain and inflammation of the joints caused by osteoarthritis. In some cases, doctors prescribe the gel for use in patients with actinic keratosis, a skin condition that can become cancerous. It is not understood why Voltaren is effective for this purpose, reports the Mayo Clinic.

Time Frame

For the relief of pain and inflammation, doctors commonly prescribe Voltaren for use four times per day as long as pain persists, according to the U.S. National Library of Health. Avoid washing the area where you apply the gel for at least one hour after use to ensure that Voltaren remains effective.

Risks

Reactions at the site where you apply Voltaren occur in 7 percent of patients and include rashes, itching and redness, according to FDA clinical trials published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Although less common with topical forms, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications pose a risk for digestive ulcers and bleeding, as well as heart attack and stroke.

Considerations

Because it has the potential to negatively impact the final stages of fetal development, doctors rarely prescribe Voltaren gel for use by pregnant women during the last trimester. If you have a history of anemia, bleeding problems, blood clots, edema, heart attack, congestive heart failure, hypertension, kidney or liver disease, stomach ulcers, stroke or aspirin sensitivity, it may not be safe for you to use Voltaren gel, warns the Mayo Clinic.

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