What is Diclofenac?
Diclofenac belongs to a group of medicines called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These are used to reduce the inflammation, swelling and pain caused in joints and muscles by a variety of conditions and health problems. These may be short- or long-term issues and include sprains, strains, back pain, soft tissue injuries, migraines, toothache, gout, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Diclofenac is also used to treat ankylosing spondylitis, a chronic (long-term) condition in which the spine and other areas of the body become inflamed.
Please note that while Diclofenac is used to relieve the symptoms of arthritis, such as inflammation, swelling, stiffness and joint pain, it cannot cure the condition.
Diclofenac is also available under the brand names Voltarol, Fenactol, Econac and Dicloflex.
How does Diclofenac work?
Diclofenac belongs to a group of medicines called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It works by inhibiting a specific type of prostaglandin that causes pain and inflammation, with the result that sensations of pain and inflammation are reduced or eliminated.
Diclofenac is available in various forms, including tablets, gel, suppositories and eye drops; if taken as tablets, it’s usually effective within 20 to 30 minutes.
How to take Diclofenac
Take Diclofenac tablets by swallowing them whole with water, with or after food. You should not crush, chew or suck tablets.
A typical dose is between 75 mg and 150 mg per day, divided between 3 measures. Always take Diclofenac as prescribed by your doctor or pharmacist. Patients should take the smallest dose that helps relieve their symptoms and the maximum dose of 150mg daily should only be taken for a short period of time.
Diclofenac side effects
Diclofenac may cause mild to moderate side effects in some patients (over 1 in 100). If you experience any of the following, and the symptoms bother you or do not go away, you must tell your doctor or pharmacist:
drowsiness or feeling dizzy
nausea (feeling sick)
vomiting or diarrhoea
stomach ache or wind (this is made more likely by taking diclofenac with another NSAID)
stomach ulcers (occurrence is made more likely by smoking and drinking alcohol)
loss of appetite
Diclofenac can also cause more serious side effects. These are rare – they happen in less than 1 in 1,000 people – but you should seek medical attention straight away if you experience any of the following:
severe indigestion, heartburn or stomach pain; vomiting or diarrhoea (these can be signs of an ulcer or inflammation in your stomach or gut)
blood in your vomit or stools, or black stools (this could indicate that the medicine is causing bleeding in your stomach or gut)
yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes (this can indicate liver problems)
breathlessness, swollen legs or ankles, or tiredness (this can indicate heart failure)
chest pain, shortness of breath, feeling weak or lightheaded, or an overwhelming feeling of anxiety (these can be signs of a heart attack)
weakness on one side of your body, accompanied by problems speaking, loss of balance and trouble seeing properly (this may indicate you are having a stroke and you must call for an ambulance immediately)
Very rare side effects, affecting 1 in 10,000 people, include:
tingling or numbness in the fingers
blurred or double vision
inflammation of the tongue
headaches linked with a dislike of bright lights
If you experience any of these, you should seek medical attention without delay.
Very occasionally someone may experience a serious allergic reaction. Stop taking Diclofenac and immediately seek medical advice if you experience any of the following:
skin rash, perhaps including peeling, blistering, itchy or swollen skin
shortness of breath
trouble talking or breathing
runny nose or sneezing
your mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat start swelling
These are not all the potential side effects of Diclofenac. For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicine packet.
Where to buy Diclofenac
You can buy Diclofenac 50mg tablets, UK sourced, online from Pharmacy Direct GB.
Can I take Diclofenac in pregnancy?
Diclofenac is not generally recommended in pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
This is because there is a small risk that problems may be caused for your unborn baby if Diclofenac is taken in early or late pregnancy.
Do I need a prescription?
You must have a valid prescription before you are able to buy Diclofenac tablets. If you do not have a private prescription, choose "supply me with a valid prescription" to add with an online consultation.
You can purchase multiple (2) packs of this product on a single prescription.
N.B. Diclofenac plasters and gel are available from your pharmacist.
What if I miss a dose?
If you forget to take a dose of Diclofenac at the time it’s due, take it as soon as you remember – unless it's nearly time for your next dose. In that case, take your next dose as normal, and skip the missed dose entirely.
Never take a double dose to make up for a forgotten dose, and don’t take more than 150 mg in any 24-hour period.
What happens if I take too much?
Taking too many Diclofenac can be harmful. Side effects can include:
feeling sick, vomiting or diarrhoea
blood in your vomit, or black stools – signs of bleeding in your stomach or gut
dizziness or disorientation
ringing in your ears (tinnitus)
If you accidentally take too much Diclofenac, contact your doctor straight away. If you need to go to hospital, take with you the Diclofenac packet or leaflet inside it, plus any remaining medicine.
Can I drink alcohol while taking Diclofenac?
Yes, but do drink it only in moderation, as too much can irritate the lining of the stomach.