|Type of medicine||Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)|
|Used for||Pain and inflammation|
|Also called||Diclomax®, Defenac®, Diclofex®, Dyloject®, Econac®, Enstar®, Flamrase®, Flamatak®, Motifene®, Rheumatac®, Rhumalgan®, Volsaid®, Voltarol®|
|Available as||Tablets and dispersible tablets, gastro-resistant tablets, prolonged-release tablets and capsules, suppositories and injection|
Anti-inflammatory painkillers like diclofenac are sometimes called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or just 'anti-inflammatories'. Diclofenac is used to treat painful conditions such as arthritis, sprains and strains, gout, migraine, dental pain, and pain after surgical operations. It eases pain and reduces inflammation.
Diclofenac works by blocking the effect of chemicals called cyclo-oxygenase (COX) enzymes. These enzymes help to make other chemicals in the body, called prostaglandins. Some prostaglandins are produced at sites of injury or damage, and cause pain and inflammation. By blocking the effect of COX enzymes, fewer prostaglandins are produced, which means pain and inflammation are eased.
There are two forms of diclofenac - diclofenac sodium and diclofenac potassium. The main difference between the two forms is that diclofenac potassium is absorbed into the body more quickly than diclofenac sodium. A quick action is useful where immediate pain relief is required, and a prolonged action is more useful in reducing inflammation.
Diclofenac is available on prescription. You can also buy a short course of diclofenac potassium at pharmacies, without a prescription, for pain such as headache, dental pain, period pain, backache and symptoms of cold and flu.
Diclofenac is not a suitable medicine for people who have heart disease (such as heart failure), or who have circulatory problems, or who have had a heart attack or a stroke. This is because it has been found that there is a small increased risk of heart attack and stroke in this group of people. Other anti-inflammatory medicines are more suitable for people with these conditions - ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice about an alternative medicine.
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking diclofenac it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Common diclofenac side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who take this medicine||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling or being sick||Stick to simple or bland foods - avoid rich or spicy foods|
|Indigestion, heartburn, stomach pain, wind||Try taking your dose after a meal if you are not already doing so. If the discomfort continues, speak with your doctor|
|Diarrhoea||Drink plenty of water to replace the lost fluids|
|Feeling dizzy or sleepy||If this happens do not drive or use tools or machines until your reactions return to normal|
|Other less common side-effects: headache, nervousness, mood changes, difficulty sleeping, vertigo (dizziness), and tinnitus (noises in the ear)||If any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor|
Important: if you experience any of the following uncommon but serious symptoms, stop taking diclofenac and contact your doctor for advice straightaway:
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.