People who use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (other than aspirin) such as topical diclofenac (Pennsaid, Voltaren) may have a higher risk of having a heart attack or a stroke than people who do not use these medications. These events may happen without warning and may cause death. This risk may be higher for people who use NSAIDs for a long time. Do not use an NSAID such as topical diclofenac if you have recently had a heart attack, unless directed to do so by your doctor.Tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family has or has ever had heart disease, a heart attack, or a stroke; if you smoke; and if you have or have ever had high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes. Get emergency medical help right away if you experience any of the following symptoms: chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness in one part or side of your body, or slurred speech.
If you will be undergoing a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG; a type of heart surgery), you should not use topical diclofenac (Pennsaid, Voltaren) right before or right after the surgery.
NSAIDs such as topical diclofenac (Pennsaid, Voltaren) may cause swelling, ulcers, bleeding, or holes in the stomach or intestine. These problems may develop at any time during treatment, may happen without warning symptoms, and may cause death. The risk may be higher for people who use NSAIDs for a long time, are older in age, have poor health, smoke, or drink alcohol while using topical diclofenac. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors and if you have or have ever had ulcersor bleeding in your stomach or intestines, or other bleeding disorders. Tell your doctor if you take any of the following medications: anticoagulants ('blood thinners') such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven); aspirin; other NSAIDs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn); oral steroids such as dexamethasone, methylprednisolone (Medrol), and prednisone (Rayos); selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, Selfemra, in Symbyax), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Brisdelle, Paxil, Pexeva), and sertraline (Zoloft); or serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) such as desvenlafaxine (Khedezla, Pristiq), duloxetine (Cymbalta), and venlafaxine (Effexor XR). If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop using topical diclofenac and call your doctor: stomach pain, heartburn, vomiting a substance that is bloody or looks like coffee grounds, blood in the stool,or black and tarry stools.
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will monitor your symptoms carefully and will probably take your blood pressure and order certain tests to check your body's response to topical diclofenac (Pennsaid, Voltaren). Be sure to tell your doctor how you are feeling so that the doctor can prescribe the right amount of medication to treat your condition with the lowest risk of serious side effects.
Your doctor or pharmacist will give you the manufacturer's patient information sheet (Medication Guide) when you begin treatment with topical diclofenac 1% and each time you refill your prescription. Read the information carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. You can also visit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website ( Web Site) to obtain the Medication Guide.
Diclofenac topical gel (Voltaren) is used to relieve pain from osteoarthritis (arthritis caused by a breakdown of the lining of the joints) in certain joints such as those of the knees, ankles, feet, elbows, wrists, and hands. Diclofenac topical liquid (Pennsaid) is used to relieve osteoarthritis pain in the knees. Diclofenac is in a class of medications called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It works by stopping the body's production of a substance that causes pain.
Diclofenac is also available as a 3% gel (Solaraze; generic) that is applied to the skin to treat actinic keratosis (flat, scaly growths on the skin caused by too much sun exposure). This monograph only gives information about diclofenac gel (Voltaren) and liquid (Pennsaid) for osteoarthritis. If you are using diclofenac gel (Solaraze, generic) for actinic keratosis, read the monograph entitled diclofenac topical (actinic keratosis).
Topical diclofenac for osteoarthritis comes as gel (Voltaren) to apply to the affected skin area four times a day to treat arthritis pain. Topical diclofenac for osteoarthritis also comes as a 1.5% liquid (Pennsaid) to apply to the knee four times a day. Topical diclofenac for osteoarthritis also comes as a 2% liquid (Pennsaid) to apply to the knee twice a day. Apply diclofenac gel (Voltaren) or liquid (Pennsaid) at around the same time(s) every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Use topical diclofenac (Pennsaid, Voltaren) exactly as directed. Do not use more or less of it or use it more often or for a longer period of time than prescribed by your doctor. Do not apply the gel or liquid to any area of your body that your doctor did not tell you to treat.
Apply diclofenac gel (Voltaren) or liquid (Pennsaid) to clean, dry skin. Do not apply the medication to skin that is broken, peeling, infected, swollen, or covered with a rash.
Diclofenac gel (Voltaren) and liquid (Pennsaid) are only for use on the skin. Be careful not to get the medication in your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you do get the medication in your eyes, rinse your eyes with plenty of water or saline. If your eye(s) are still irritated after one hour, call your doctor.
After you apply diclofenac gel (Voltaren) or liquid (Pennsaid), you should not cover the treated area with any type of dressing or bandage and you should not apply heat to the area. You should not shower or bathe for at least 30 minutes after you apply the liquid (Pennsaid) and for at least 1 hour after you apply the gel (Voltaren). Do not cover the treated area with clothes or gloves for 10 minutes after you apply the gel (Voltaren), or until the liquid (Pennsaid) has dried if you are using the liquid.
To use topical diclofenac gel (Voltaren), follow these steps:
To use topical diclofenac 1.5 % liquid (Pennsaid), follow these steps:
To use topical dicofenac 2% liquid (Pennsaid), follow these steps:
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Before using diclofenac gel (Voltaren) or liquid (Pennsaid),
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
Apply the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for your next scheduled application, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not apply extra diclofenac gel (Voltaren) or liquid (Pennsaid) to make up for a missed dose.
Diclofenac gel (Voltaren) or liquid (Pennsaid) may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, call your doctor immediately:
Diclofenac gel (Voltaren) or liquid (Pennsaid) may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while using this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online ( Web Site ) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and keep it from freezing or excess heat.
Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website ( Web Site) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. Web Site
If someone swallows diclofenac gel or liquid, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
Symptoms of overdose may include the following:
Do not let anyone else use your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.
Selected Revisions: July 15, 2018.