Voltaren is one of the various trade names of Diclofenac, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to reduce pain and inflammation. It is not considered a narcotic nor it is addictive, but you should not take it for long periods of time. Diclofenac is available by prescription or over-the-counter at low doses for the treatment of various pains, inflammatory disorders, and dysmenorrhea. Taking NSAIDs like Voltaren can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke, especially if you’re taking high doses for long-term use. Warnings have been included in the product information of these pain relievers to guide patients and health professionals. The treatment advice only applies to systemic formulations, such as tablets, capsules, injections, and suppositories, and does not apply to gel or cream formulations.
What is a narcotic?
The term narcotic used to refer to a class of drugs that produces pain relief, state of sleep (narcosis), and addiction. Opiates are the most widely known narcotics. This plant–derived substance is extracted from the seeds of opium poppy. Synthetic opioids (fentanyl, methadone) and semi-synthetic opioids (oxycodone, hydrocodone) were later developed to help treat a variety of conditions such as cough, pain, and insomnia, to name a few. Nowadays, narcotics are considered as addictive substances that are controlled by federal law. In medical setting, narcotics are powerful painkillers that are only prescribed for severe pain. They must be used with great caution because of their addictive properties. Common narcotic pain relievers include:
- Fentanyl patch;
What is Voltaren used for?
Voltaren is a prescription medication belonging to the arylalkanoic acid class of NSAIDs. Its generic name diclofenac is the 5th most commonly prescribed NSAID in the United States. It is available in different preparations, including tablets for mild to moderate pain and extended release tablets (Voltaren XR) for treating pain, tenderness, swelling, and stiffness caused by osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis. NSAIDs can relieve pain, inflammation, and fever. Although their mechanism of action has not been fully understood, it typically involves inhibition of the enzymes that facilitates prostaglandin synthesis. In the case of diclofenac, it inhibits both cyclooxygenase 1 and 2 (COX-1 and COX-2) but it has low to moderate inhibitory effects on COX-1. COX-1 inhibitors like aspirin are known to cause side effects on the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which means diclofenac is associated with a somewhat lower incidence of gastrointestinal complaints.
- Do not take Voltaren if you have known hypersensitivity to diclofenac and any components of the medication.
- Do not take Voltaren if you experience allergic-type reactions, such as asthma, itching, rash, and difficulty of breathing, after taking aspirin or other NSAIDs.
- This medication should not be used for treating perioperative pain in patients who are undergoing coronary artery bypass graft surgery.
- Voltaren is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular thrombotic events such as heart attack and stroke, which can be fatal.
- Voltaren can cause new-onset high blood pressure or worsening of preexisting hypertension.
- Fluid retention and edema has also been reported following NSAID use.
- NSAIDs are known to cause serious GI adverse events including bleeding, inflammation, ulceration, and perforation of the stomach, small or large intestine.
- Long-term use of Voltaren may result in kidney impairment.
- While on diclofenac therapy, liver function tests may show abnormal or elevated results.
- Diclofenac is now contraindicated in patients with ischemic heart disease, peripheral arterial disease, congestive heart failure, and cerebrovascular disease.
The following adverse reactions have been reported to occur in 1–10% of patients taking Voltaren (diclofenac sodium enteric-coated tablets) or other similar NSAIDs.
- Abnormal liver enzymes
- Abnormal renal function
- Abdominal pain
- Bleeding and perforation
When is Voltaren used?
Considered an NSAID, this medication is used to reduce pain. Some doctors may prescribe this medication as an alternative to narcotics. As well, patients often turn to Voltaren when they decide not to use narcotic pain killers.