More than 1 in 5 adults in America suffer from chronic pain on most days or every day, according to research from the International Association for the Study of Pain. Most commonly, Americans suffer from back, hip, knee, or foot pain. Though, there are many other conditions that American’s suffer pain from, such as joint pain from osteoarthritis, headaches, sprains and strains, and/or menstrual pain, to name a few. Pain can affect the sufferer’s daily life. Pain can limit people from participating in social activities, work, or other activities of their daily life (ex. chores around the house or walking the dog). There are oral pain relievers available both over-the-counter (OTC) and via prescription. However, taking mediations orally isn’t always the best choice for everyone. For example, in older people, it may be best to avoid additional oral medications if they’re already taking multiple oral medications or are at high risk for side effects. There are many reasons why a topical pain reliever may be the preferred method of treatment.
See our blog on Non-medication Treatment of Arthritis
What is diclofenac gel?
Diclofenac gel (also known as Voltaren gel) is a topical pain reliever for the treatment of pain. It is applied on the skin, directly to the painful area. Commonly, it is used to treat joint pain from osteoarthritis, and is labeled to be used for hand, wrist, elbow, foot, ankle, or knee pain. It may be used on other types of muscle pains under the recommendation of a healthcare professional. Diclofenac is part of a drug class called NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory Drugs). Until recently, diclofenac gel was only available with a prescription from a healthcare provider. It was approved by the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) for OTC use in February of 2020. Though it is available OTC, it is not recommended to continue use for more than 21 days without consulting your doctor.
How do you use it?
There is a specific way diclofenac gel should be used. It comes with a dosing card attached to the inside of the carton. The proper dose for an upper body area is 2 grams (or about a 2.25 in ribbon) or 4 grams (4.5 inch ribbon) for a lower body area. Use the dosing card to help measure the amount, so you know you’re getting the proper dose. Once you’ve measured the correct dose, rub the gel gently into the affected area up to 4 times per day. The manufacturer recommends using the product 4 times per day consistently for maximum relief. The gel should not be used on more than two areas of the body at the same time and should not be placed on the same area where any other medicine or products are also applied to the skin. It may take a few days to begin feeling relief. The product should work after seven days of continuous use.
- PAIN 163(2):p e328-e332, February 2022. | DOI: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000002291
Disclaimer: This blog is written for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen online.