Voltaren is a pain reliever used for arthritis. It belongs to a class of medications commonly called NSAIDs or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Other medicines in this category include over-the-counter analgesics like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, etc.) and naproxen (Aleve) as well as prescription arthritis pills such as Lodine, Naprosyn or Relafen.

Side Effects and Interactions of Voltaren

Unquestionably the most common side effects of Voltaren involve the gastrointestinal tract. They include nausea, indigestion, heartburn, cramps, gas, constipation, and diarrhea.

Some people may develop ulcers and intestinal bleeding while taking Voltaren. Occasionally these problems can occur without obvious symptoms and lead to a life-threatening crisis due to perforation of the stomach lining. Older people appear to be more susceptible to this problem and should be monitored carefully. Warning signs include weight loss, persistent indigestion, a feeling of fullness after moderate meals, dark or tarry stools, anemia and unusual fatigue. Home stool tests such as Hemoccult or Fleet Detecatest may provide an early indication of bleeding.

Other side effects to be alert for include headache, ringing in the ears, rash, itching, and fluid retention. Drowsiness, dizziness, lightheadedness, difficulty concentrating, and confusion are possible, so do not drive if you become impaired.

Less common adverse reactions include jitteriness, insomnia, difficulty breathing, hair loss, depression, changes in appetite, hearing loss, visual disturbances, sores in the mouth and heart palpitations. Report any symptoms to your physician promptly.

Voltaren can affect both the kidney and liver, so periodic blood tests to monitor the function of these organs are important.

Some people become sensitive to sunlight while on Voltaren, so use an effective sunscreen, stay covered or avoid the sun.

This medication can interact with many other drugs including aspirin, alcohol, certain blood pressure pills, and the ulcer medicine Pepcid.

A person taking a blood thinner like Coumadin may become more vulnerable to a dangerous bleeding ulcer.

All the NSAIDs, including Voltaren, can make methotrexate (Folex, Mexate, Rheumatrex), lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid, etc.) and Lanoxin far more toxic.

When Voltaren is combined with Sandimmune the risk of kidney damage is increased.

Because of a possible risk of hemmorhage, we advise against combining ginkgo biloba extract with this medicine.

Check with your pharmacist and physician to make sure Voltaren is safe in combination with any other drugs you take.

Special Precautions

People who are allergic to aspirin or other anti-inflammatory agents should avoid Voltaren. Signs of allergy include breathing difficulties, rash, fever, or a sudden drop in blood pressure and require immediate medical attention.

Taking the Medicine

Because Voltaren can be hard on the digestive tract, it may be taken with food to reduce tummy trouble. This does not, however, guarantee that the drug will be safe for the stomach.

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  1. Cindy

    I take it for osteoarthritis. If I want to have just one drink, my face gets treally flushed. I hate to give up a nightly cocktail but this worries me.

  2. Rick
    NH - New Hampshire

    I have been taking 50mg Diclofenac Potassium IR x 2 tabs daily for years with great results. Tried Voltaren Gel 1% with no worthwhile results except swollen hands and knees where it is applied. So yesterday I tried my first dose of Diclofenac Sodium 100mg ER (the one my Rx Plan covers, as the Potassium slat is not covered) and after approx 6 hrs I experienced the worst diarrhea I have had in a long time – similar to colonoscopy prep. It lasted for 9 hrs and I am very weak today. The arthritis pain is very bad since I have taken nothing, but I am afraid of the severe diarrhea from the 100mg ER tab. I ate food right before taking and drank plenty of water – just like suggested. I cannot see anywhere in the literature that GI distress lessens with continued dosing, so the remaining 89 tabs are staying locked up.

  3. Gavin

    Worked great for my degenerative disc disease but it wrecked my knees and lower legs. Severe tendon and IT band pain. I thought it was tendonitis from running but when I quit running the pain wasn’t getting better.

    Stopped taking the diclofenac and the pain improved daily. I took another dose just to check and the stabbing pain returned. Threw the rest in the trash.


    Hello, I also noticed that my hair was thinning and I have a receding hairline now now. I’d only just occurred to me today that it could be the Diclofenac so I went on this website and I feel like people’s experience mirrors mine. Has anyone’s hair grow back after they stop the medicine??

    • shirley
      sandusky oh

      hi, I’m Shirley doctor gave me diclofenac sod 75 mg 2 a day not sure if it is a side affect or not but have a lot of pain in right side of neck going up the back of head stoped taking pills but has not went away yet any one else have this problem? if so please share thanks

  5. Monica

    Prescribed Diclofenac 50mg for severe shoulder pain.. Have taken 3 pills total, and I’m stopping. These pills are killing my stomach. Although an effective pain killer, my shoulder feels great, my stomach can’t take it. Taken on full stomach this med is just too hard on my stomach

  6. Trish

    My husband, 58, has had some back problems for years. 1 and a 1/2 weeks ago he was prescribed Diclofanac. Trouble is he is allergic to aspirin. Dr. Forgott and pharmacist didn’t notice. He broke out in a rash all over his back 4 after he started it. Once we figured out the problem he immediately stopped taking it and is now taking the maximum dose of Benadryl. Trouble is the rash has now spread to his hands, legs and is moving up to his face. How long does the diclofenac stay in your system? I am currently waiting for a call back from the doctor.

  7. Max

    I was prescribed Diclofenac Sod 75 to relieve persistent neck pain. 1 hour after taking my first dose I experienced a severe migraine. I have never had a migraine prior to this. The headache lasted about 2 hrs and then the medication actually relieved my neck pain. Too bad for the side effect. Not willing to go through the migraine again. Going try something else

  8. Marie

    I was prescribed Diclofenac Pot 50 mg for planters fasciitis. By the seventh day I noticed a jump in my blood pressure. I called the doctor and he told me to discontinue it. I stopped two days ago and my pressure is still running high in the afternoon. It has a high sodium level and I’m wondering how long it will take to wash out of my body. I don’t know why in the world prescriptions with so many side affects are prescribed in the first place.

  9. SG

    I took Diclofenac for to months. One pill a day for three weeks. Now my legs hurts all the time didn’t know that was part of the side effects. Right leg hurts more than the left leg can’t stand up or get up the stairs with out help.
    But the arthritis pain have gone away it’s just too bad for this side effect.
    They should tell people that you may have weakness from it. This was working for me.

    • jer
      my desk

      I’m having the same pain but in both legs. I take 2 75mg tablets a day to remove the fluid from my left knee but now both legs hurt top to bottom. Anyone know of another medication I could refer to my doctor.

  10. CB

    To those of you who experienced hair loss while using Diclofenac:

    How long after stopping the drug did your hair loss continue. After noticing significant shedding/hairline recession while taking Diclofenac (for 3 months), I discontinued Diclofenac. I stopped one month ago. But, my hair loss is increasingly worse, specifically along my hairline. Will the shedding continue for months, or will it subside sometime soon? I’d appreciate any insight!

  11. Jeremy
    Auckland, New Zealand

    I have put my back out and so started taking Voltaren tablets (25mg) orally. But the ringing in my ears is awful. Does anyone know if this causes permanent hearing loss or tinitus – or is it just temporary? Help.

  12. jas

    I have been on Diclofenac sodium 75 mg for over a year for arthritic pain. I usually do 3 days on, 2 days off to give my system a rest. I take no other prescribed medicine. However: on my labs, BUN level has risen from 26 to 35. My creatinine levels are in normal range. (.7) Other lab values are also in normal range.

    I am 76 years old. Is there any opinion as to whether or not the Diclofenac is causing my BUN levels to rise.

    Any help with this will be appreciated!

  13. Jodi

    I have osteoarthritis and bulging discs in my thoracic spine. This is the only medication that has taken away 100% of my pain! Unfortunately it is causing me to have headaches 24/7 along with dizziness and fatigue. I was taking 75mg but my doctor reduced the dose to 50mg 2xs a day…hopefully the side effects will dissipate because this medication is amazing in getting rid of my chronic pain.

  14. Tifanie

    I have had ringing in my ears for 4 days after just being on this medication for a 5 days. I took 3 50mg a day and now the ringing has not stopped. I feel like sonething may be wrong, even got nausea and dizziness to the point if I closed my eyes I would lose my balance. I should have never taken this for my hairline fracture.

  15. Gene

    When I first started taking this medication it was like a miracle drug for pain and inflammation. I only have taken it maybe once a month at the most, over a year though. I have had problems with it such as upset stomach, sweats, and my eyes swelling almost shut with blurred vision. Will not take this again after this last bout. I will look into diet changes and herbs.

    • CRPS patient
      North Carolina

      Oh my God. I thought I was crazy & now I know I am experiencing acute toxicity of diclofenac (Pennsaid (R) 1.5% topical). My ears ring constantly. My eyes have so much pressure around them, my vision is very blurry. My eyes hurt really bad & so does my stomach. I’ve developed mouth sores, sweating, shakes and crazy weird metabolic changes. I’ve had the worst 24/7/365 severe headaches for months, which frequently turn into migraines. But they don’t start like my regular hereditary migraines.
      I always used Pennsaid after work for carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic tendonitis in my forearms (from computer work) and on my left ankle, held together by screws. Pennsaid was life-changing for me. I used no more than 50% of Package Insert dose daily for 3 years. I stopped it 48 hours ago.

      All this to avoid taking anything but bare minimum opioids! Un@$!#/believable. Opioids DO NOT cause end-organ damage like NSAIDS. Yes, you become physically dependent, but a slow taper using a beta blocker, under physician guidance, and anyone can be tapered off successfully. I’ve done it twice in my life with no problem.

      Does anyone know how to wash out Pennsaid?? I’m passed the half-life, but still feel awful.

      Thanks, everyone. I now know I am not crazy. God bless you.

  16. RK

    This stuff works, no doubt…….for pain. It was like a miracle after taking the first one a year ago. I had no idea I was in that much pain until it was relieved. I do remember however that you had better find the nearest bathroom within 10 minutes of of popping one of these.

    Today I needed to relieve this back pain to get through the day. Again, it got the job done. Then I couldn’t figure out why I was itching everywhere: forearms, face, crotch, feet. Then I figured it out. Luckily I had an EpiPen handy if needed. Best to just take the day off of work.

    Just my two cents.

  17. Andrew

    Was prescribed Diclofenac 75MG 2x a day for lower back pain. I find one pill in the evening helps the pain and lasts through the following evening. I find after taking 1 a day for 3-4 days I can stop taking it for about 4-6 days before the pain comes back. I know this drug is hard on the stomach and kidneys so I try not to depend on it. I have no side effects because of it and have been using it for over a year.

  18. nisha

    I been taking diclofenace and amoxicillin. I dont know what drug is making me have hives and my chest hurts a little bit the top part of my stomach hurts, I don’t want to eat, it really seems like everyone is saying the same thing about this medication, it’s crazy if it’s doing this to people why is the doctor giving this to us? I’m calling my doctor now I haven’t been feeling good.

  19. Ju345

    I had taken diclofenac 2 years ago for a prolapsed disc without any problems, recently I was prescribed it for shoulder pain and took a severe allergic reaction, hives itching and swelling, initially I did not blame diclofenac as I had also taken tramadol and I blamed this, I took diclofenac again next morning and a rash soon appeared both hands, tingling and swollen painful fingers and lip swelling.

    Stopped the diclofenac and after a few days on steroids and antihistamines everything settled down. I will be very cautious before I take any medications in future, fully read the patient information leaflet and try physio first before popping a box of pills, every medication has the potential for nasty side effects.

  20. D Gon
    Winston Salem, NC

    I have been taking Diclofenac for many years, Now I have had surgery and had removed 16 inches of my large intestion was in hospital for 1 week. had blockage on right side of navel and ulcer on the other side. Surgon said was because of taking the durg diclofenac. It was intened for low back pain

    • marita

      I agree with you, and I did this: first pjhysio, two months, no results, inflammation did not go down 9 days, now I developed left arm numbness and strange sensation of tension … which is scary.. I stopped it..of course

  21. halima

    i cut my finger and had stitches. My doctor prescribed diclofenac to relieve my pain, but after 3 days i started having a serious chest and back pain. I stopped taking it, but still after 4 days of not taking it, the side effects continued. Now I am having lost of appetite and stomach pain.

  22. susan

    Can you use voltarol cream for back pain, with kidney diease.

    • CRPS patient

      Absolutely not, IMHO. Speak to a pharmacist or your local poison center or doctor for more info, but based on my experience, no way.

  23. rebecca

    I was given valtaren after my surgery Wednesday as I got my tubes tied. I have since had a lot of heartburn and watery diarrhea. Is this normal? I have stopped taking them as I had blood in stools.

  24. Bronya

    I used voltaren gel lady night on my knee. I had insomnia. Has anyone else experienced that side effect?

  25. John

    I have severe back pain and sciatica. Doctor issued diclofenac 50mg 3 times a day, it really helped my pain relief but after 4 days my legs, ankles and my feet got so badly swollen I could hardly walk. My arms were so heavy and of a night time in bed I had cramp in my legs that I have not had for years. I have high blood pressure and take blood thinning tablets but was told that they should be ok to take together. I stopped taking the Diclofenac after only 4 days and the swelling in my legs have subsided. I would sooner persevere with the pain and take Paracetamols to assist it. Diclofenac is a very strong drug.

  26. Delores

    I have been on Voltaren Gel for my knee. The pain is worse & my hair is falling out.

  27. JJ

    I have been having issues with high blood pressure,
    Talking with my Cardiologist, she said Diclofenac was hard on the kidneys and also causes the blood pressure to go up.
    On the other hand, Diclofenac, is a miracle drug for arthritis pain, two days after taking 75mg twice a day, I had no more pain!
    I am confused if I should keep taking it, without it my pain is unbearable.

  28. KD

    HI…RM, I am currently experiencing the same reaction as you with the itchiness. I went to the doctor, she gave me a cortisone shot, and told me to take Benadryl. I am taking the benadryl every 6 hrs. That was Friday the 6th. My question to you is, are you still experiencing the problems, are you still taking the Diclofenac? If not, how long did it take before the allergic reaction went away. Hope that you are back to 100 percent. I took this for 3 weeks then I started to feel the allergic reactions. I’m going to go back to the doctor if it keeps persisting. I just don’t know since I took it for over 3 weeks how long it it take to get rid of it in my system. She was having me take 1- 75mg pill 2x a day.
    Thanks for anyone else that can give me any ideas.

  29. Kate

    I started taking Diclofenac Sodium 50mg on 30th September, so about 2 weeks, for pain in my hip and back. They have really helped but about a week ago I noticed my hair was falling out when I brushed it and my scalp was itchy. I have very nice hair, not thick but plenty of hair, but it has definitely gone thinner. I couldn’t understand why but now I know so I am not taking another tablet and will be going to see my doctor tomorrow.

    • Carol

      I have been using Voltaren Gel for a back problem. Since i cannot take Motrin type drugs due to burning in my gut, Voltaren Gel was a Godsend. Only one big problem: after using Voltaren for 6 months. I notice my hair thinning! I have very thick hair, so this is very unusual! I wondered if anyone else has experienced this side effect? There is very little information about it. I hope i hear from you if this has happened.

  30. RM

    posted comment 20 June 2013 on this subject.
    Doc ordered me back on diclofenac so dosed 1 pill a day and had been on it for about 3 weeks. 4 days ago hives and maddening itching arose all over my body, between the fingers, palms, eye lids, back, front, crotch area, feet…you name it I felt like I was dropped on a red ant hill. Upper stomach went into major pain, gas like feeling, hard to swallow. Stabbing sharp pain when swallowing water and worse when eating food. 3 days prior I called the Doc….out of town. Nurse called back and said take Benedryl which is an antihistamine. I’ve been taking this now for 2.5 days and has relieved the hives and itching, but the gastro track is still impacted. Have a hard time swallowing water and issues eating. It took 1 hour to eat a bowl of cereal with milk and a banana. Can’t find any info as to what to do abut the gastro track pain and suspect that I’ve burned the top part of the stomach lining as well as the esophagus.
    Regardless of what your Doc says, be extremely careful, as I suspected seen in my 20 June post that something like this would occur, it did. For me the medication is like a train ride to hell.

    • Nancy

      I started taking Diclofenac Sodium less than a month ago and after a week I started having hair loss. My dr and pharmacist both said it couldn’t be from this medication but then I just read your post. It really works so well for my pain and this really disappoints me but I’m gonna try to stop taking it to see if the hair loss stops. Did your hair loss stop?

      • Carol

        Please let me know how your hair problem did after using Volteren Gel. I am losing hair and really scared. Thanks.

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