Voltaren is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug with the generic name of diclofenac. Voltaren is used for the treatment of inflammatory disorders, pain and dysmenorrhea. Specific inflammatory conditions that may be managed by Voltaren include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Temporo-mandibular joint disorder
- Akylosing spondylitis
- Kidney and gallstone pain
- Post surgical inflammation and pain
Voltaren is usually given to mange mild to moderate pain with inflammatory conditions. The mechanism of action of Voltaren in reducing pain and inflammation include the inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis by acting on the cyclooxygenase pathways that stimulate the conversion of arachidonic acid to prostaglandin. Prostaglandin is a chemical mediator for inflammation. When prostaglandin is inhibited, the inflammatory response is also inhibited thereby preventing the cardinal signs of inflammation such as pain, redness, swelling, heat and loss of function.
Voltaren is available in oral form as well as gel forms for the local management of musculoskeletal disorder. It is also available in optic drops for the management of postoperative eye inflammation.
Voltaren Side effects
Voltaren is one of the most tolerated NSAIDs; nevertheless, it may still cause Voltaren side effects. These include:
1. Gastrointestinal Voltaren side effects
Prostaglandin is also essential in protecting the lining of the stomach. When it is inhibited, the gastric lining is thereby irritated by the drug. This is usually avoided by taking the drug on a full stomach or after meals. Gastric irritation is the most common reason of Voltaren discontinuation.
Peptic ulcer disease
Long-term use of Voltaren may eventually lead to peptic ulcer disease as a Voltaren side-effect because of prolonged gastric irritation. Because of this potential Voltaren side effect, diclofenac is sometimes prepared in combination with antiulcer drugs such as misoprostol, which is a synthetic prostaglandin. It may also be taken with pantoprazole, but be sure to watch out for Pantoprazole side effects as well.
Diarrhea or constipation
Because of the mucoprotective effect of prostaglandin in the GIT, the use of Voltaren may also cause diarrhea or constipation.
2. Cardiac Voltaren side effects
Diclofenac is found to increase the risk for myocardial infarctions due to development of possible blood clots because the pathway of prostaglandin synthesis is also responsible for platelet aggregation.
Diclofenac is also found to cause abnormal blood clotting that may lead to life-threatening thrombosis and embolism.
3. Hepatic Voltaren side effects
Liver damage is a rare Voltaren side effect and tends to be reversible. Voltaren is found to be less hepatotoxic than other NSAIDs. The serum transaminase may be increased up to three times the normal liver enzyme levels. The liver function should be regularly monitored when under Voltaren therapy. Liver damage is usually reversible after discontinuing the medication.
4. Renal Voltaren side effects
Voltaren also affects the renal prostaglandins, which are responsible for protecting the nephrons. Renal problems are seen in long term use of Voltaren. Avoiding long term use of the drug seems to be effective in preventing renal Voltaren side effects.
5. Hematologic Voltaren side effects
Decreased blood cells
There have also been reported reductions in the white blood cells, platelets and red blood cells. These Voltaren side-effects results from the inhibition of the thrombocytic aggregation that is needed in blood clotting. The destruction of the WBCS and RBCs may be related to the development of autoantibodies that results from hypersensitivity reactions to the drug.
6. Dermatologic Voltaren side effects
Patients allergic to diclofenac and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may develop maculopapular rash as a sign of allergy. Severe development of rashes may involve Steven Johnson Syndrome and erythema multiforme.
7. Musculoskeletal Voltaren side effects
A rare musculoskeletal Voltaren side-effect has been observed in a 44 year old patient who took Voltaren for 7 days. Rhabdomyolysis is a life-threatening Voltaren side effect that results from the destruction of the muscle fibers. Although the exact mechanism is unknown, it is essential to report signs of muscle weakness, fatigue and epigastric pain to rule out the presence of rhabdomyolysis.
Although these Voltaren side effects may be moderate to severe in nature, taking the drug as prescribed usually avoids these Voltaren side effects.
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