Q: What is diclofenac?
A: Diclofenac is the generic name for a prescription medicine to relieve pain, tenderness, swelling, and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis (arthritis that mainly affects the spine). Diclofenac immediate-release(short-acting) tablets are also used to treat painful menstrual periods and other types of pain.
Part of a class of medications called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), diclofenac is manufactured and marketed by Novartis Pharmaceuticals under the names Cataflam and Voltaren-XR. Diclofenac is also manufactured and marketed by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals.
Q: Are there any serious health risks associated with diclofenac use?
A: People who take NSAIDs(other than aspirin) such as diclofenac may have a higher risk heart attack or a stroke than people who do not take these medications. These events may happen without warning and may cause death, and this risk may be higher for people who take NSAIDs for a long time.
Also, NSAIDs such as diclofenac may cause 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 take NSAIDs for a long time, those older in age, people in poor health, or those who drink large amounts of alcohol while taking diclofenac.
Q: What precautions should I take before or while taking Diclofenac?
A: Keep all appointments with your healthcare professional and the laboratory. Be sure to tell your healthcare professional how you are feeling, so that he or she can prescribe the right amount of diclofenac to treat your condition with the lowest risk of serious side effects. Carefully read the manufacturer's patient information sheet (Medication Guide) when you begin treatment, and ask your healthcare professional or pharmacist any questions you may have.
Q: What should I tell my healthcare professional before he or she prescribes Diclofenac?
A: Tell your healthcare professional if you are allergic to diclofenac, aspirin, or other NSAIDs, as well as other medications or any of the inactive ingredients found in diclofenac; 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; if you have or have ever had ulcers, bleeding in your stomach or intestines, or other bleeding disorders; if you have asthma or a frequent stuffed or runny nose or nasal polyps; if you have lupus; if you have porphyria; if you have liver or kidney disease; if you experience swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs; if you are pregnant, become pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding; and if you are taking diclofenac before having surgery (including dental surgery).
Q: What are the side effects associated with Diclofenac?
A: Tell your healthcare professional if any of the following side effects associated with diclofenac use are severe or persistent: diarrhea, constipation, gas or bloating, headache, dizziness, or ringing in the ears.
Call your healthcare professional immediately if you experience any of the following side effects: unexplained weight gain, excessive tiredness, lack of energy, upset stomach, loss of appetite, itching, pain in the upper right part of the stomach, yellowing of the skin or eyes, flu-like symptoms, fever, blisters, rash, hives, swelling of the eyes, face, tongue, lips, throat, arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs, difficulty breathing or swallowing, hoarseness, pale skin, fast heartbeat, cloudy, discolored, or bloody urine, back pain, or difficult or painful urination.
Q: Are there any interactions between Diclofenac and other drugs or foods?
A: Diclofenac and certain other medicines can interact with each other. Tell your healthcare professional about all the medicines you take -- including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Unless your healthcare professional tells you otherwise, you may continue your normal diet.
Q: What should I do if I think I have been injured as a result of using Diclofenac?
A: If you or a loved one has experienced any dangerous symptoms or unusual medical conditions while taking diclofenac, you should first contact your doctor or other healthcare professional. It may also be in your best interests to consult with a product liability attorney to discuss your options and to protect your right to a legal remedy for any injuries caused by diclofenac use.