Diclofenac belongs to a group of drugs called Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories (NSAIDs), which are used to reduce the pain and inflammation of joints, muscles and tendons affected by Still’s Disease and similar conditions. Quite often, they are the first choice of treatment from your GP, particularly if symptoms are mild.
Brand names include: Votarol, Diclomax, Motifene, Arthrotec, Defenac and Dicloflex
Diclofenac works by blocking a substance, known as COX, which is involved in producing the inflammatory chemical, Prostaglandin, in response to an injury or illness. In doing so, it stops the production of Prostaglandin and reduces the symptoms of this inflammation, including pain and swelling.
It usually comes in the form of tablets (available in 25mg, 50mg, 75mg and 100mg strengths), including enteric coated, modified release and dispersible varieties, but it can also be administered as a suppository, injection or topical gel. You will need to follow your doctor’s directions when taking this medication; it should be prescribed at the lowest dose suitable to avoid side effects.
You may not be able to take Diclofenac if you have: COPD or severe Asthma, High blood pressure, Certain blood disorders, Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis, Liver or Kidney problems, Stomach ulcer, Stomach bleeding, Cardiovascular disease or if you are frail, eldery, underweight or having problems conceiving.
Side Effects most people experience are gastric but can include:
- Stomach pain/discomfort
- Nausea and sickness
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Abnormal blood test results
- Skin Problems (hypersensitivity)
You will be given an information leaflet if prescribed this drug, always refer to that and seek medical advice if you experience other, significant side effects. Of course, like all drugs, there is also a risk of allergic reaction and so you should see a doctor immediately if you eperience any of the following: Shortness of breath, swelling of the mouth or face, severe skin rash.
Prolonged use of NSAIDs in general have been linked to an increase in blood pressure and an increased risk of developing cardio-vascular problems, including hypertension, stroke and heart attack.
Your doctor may prescribe another medication with Diclofenac to help protect your stomach and prevent gastric problems, especially in longterm usage. There are also a few other things you can try in order to limit unpleasant side effects:
- Make sure that you take Diclofenac on a full stomach.
- Take the tablet with a glass of milk.
- Do not lie down for 10-15 minutes after taking this tablet.
- If you are given a tablet to help protect your stomach, take this half an hour before the Diclofenac itself.
- To prevent indigestion, take an antacid but do this at least two hours beforehand.
- Eat little and often and avoid spicy foods.
- Drink plenty of fluid.
There’s not an awful lot I can say about this drug from experience since I was very young when I took it; this would suggest it is suitable for children at least. I don’t remember any discomfort and eventually went into remission, whether spontaneously or thanks to this drug.
Official Diclofenac Site, (including News stories)
Diclofenac Guide (NHS Online)
Diclofenac and Children (Medicines for Children)
Diclofenac For Acute Pain in Children (Cochrane Group)
The Facts About NSAIDs (StillsDisease.org)