A new over-the-counter medication is now available at Sona Pharmacy! However, it may not seem new to you. Voltaren gel, or diclofenac sodium 1%, has been available as a prescription product in America since 2007. Recently, the FDA has approved it for use over-the-counter. Voltaren is currently approved for the temporary relief of arthritis pain. Voltaren Arthritis (as it will be marketed as an over-the-counter medication) is a topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) that helps reduce swelling and inflammation.
Voltaren Arthritis can be used if the pain is localized to smaller joints like the elbows, hands, wrists, knees, ankles, and feet (not the hips, back, or shoulders). It can be applied as 2 to 4 grams, on up to 2 joints, up to 4 times a day. (Max of 32 grams/day). Patients should use these topical products for no longer than 21 days, and treatment lasting longer than that should be guided by a doctor.
Voltaren Arthritis Pain has advantages over oral NSAIDs due to a decreased amount of absorption into the body. About 10% of the medication is absorbed systemically. This means that the topical product causes fewer stomach issues than the oral product as well. Despite the lower absorption, patients should avoid combining oral and topical NSAIDs.
Oral NSAIDs to look for on labels include:
OTC Oral NSAIDs:
- Advil (ibuprofen)
- Aleve (naproxen)
- Midol Extended Relief (naproxen)
- Motrin (ibuprofen)
- Naprosyn (naproxen)
Prescription Oral NSAIDs:
- Celebrex (celecoxib)
- Feldene (piroxicam)
- Indocin (indomethacin)
- Mobic (meloxicam)
- Toradol (ketorolac)
All NSAIDs, topical or oral, should be avoided in patients with cardiac conditions or renal insufficiency.
Other Options for over-the-counter topical pain relief.
Lidocaine- Lidocaine is available as a patch or a gel. The best evidence shows it is useful in treating neuropathic pain, or pain related to nerve damage. It does not have good evidence to support its use for arthritis related pain. Lidocaine is a local anesthetic that numbs the nerve endings to relieve pain.
Capsaicin- (Zostrix HP)– Capsaicin helps relieve both musculoskeletal and neuropathic pain. It can take up to 4 weeks to work. Patients may feel burning upon application, but that usually goes away over time. Capsaicin works by interrupting the pain signal to the brain and reducing the feeling of pain.
All of these topical medications should only be used sparingly on intact skin. You should also avoid heating the area of application.
If you have any questions about the new over-the-counter Voltaren Arthritis or to receive some advice on other treatments for pain and arthritis, please contact your Sona Pharmacist!