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Voltaren Gel is the first prescription topical treatment for osteoarthritis that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Voltaren Gel -- a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug or NSAID -- in topical form, will mostly be used on knees and hands. Voltaren Gel delivers effective pain relief and has a favorable safety profile. The systemic absorption of Voltaren Gel (1 percent diclofenac sodium in topical gel formulation) is 94 percent less than oral diclofenac (generic for Voltaren).

The FDA approval of Voltaren Gel was based on several studies, including two randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled efficacy (such as to test effectiveness) studies and a 12-month safety study. After 6 weeks of treatment in an efficacy study of patients with hand osteoarthritis, pain levels were reduced by 46 percent. In a 12-week study of patients with knee osteoarthritis, Voltaren Gel reduced pain levels by 51 percent.

Knowing how to use Voltaren Gel safely decreases the chance for unwanted side effects. Safety warnings about Voltaren Gel should be respected. Learn more about the safe use of Voltaren Gel in 10 Things You Need to Know About Voltaren Gel.

Related Resources:

Photo by Kevin Russ (iStockphoto)

May 26, 2008 at 10:49 am
(1) Nicki Tiffany says:

I started using Voltaren gel about 2 weeks ago while I await the approval from the insurance company for my hyaluronic acid shots in my knee (I have had wonderful success with these shots over the last 3 to 4 years, but the waiting period is too long and the pain is extreme). Anyway, with the gel, I *do* get relief – I apply 2 grams to my knee four times a day. So far side effects have been mostly a lot of flatulence, but now I am noticing weight gain! I have not changed my diet or exercise routine, so this is the only different element. Is there any precedent for weight gain?

May 26, 2008 at 6:32 pm
(2) arthritis says:

You should definitely contact your doctor about any side effects or possible side effects you are experiencing with Voltaren Gel. On drugs.com, side effects are listed including “swelling or rapid weight gain”. It suggests stopping the treatment and calling your doctor if you have this side effect.

May 30, 2008 at 9:12 pm
(3) Nicki Tiffany says:

Thank you for your advice – I called my pharmacist and he advised that rapid weight gain (from the sodium and fluid retention)was an adverse side effect and said I should stop using it and call my ortho doc (who prescribed it). The pharmacist also named some other adverse side effects that I was having but not attributing to the Voltaren, like swollen fingers and ankles, a stiff neck, and ringing in my ears! So I called my ortho and left a message with his receptionist telling her all of this. He called me back when I wasn’t by the phone and left a message saying yes, do stop using it, but the symptoms really sounded like a viral infection that is plaguing our area right now! Interesting, no? So I am stopping use of the gel, and if my symptoms don’t improve, it is the virus!

September 3, 2008 at 9:28 am
(4) Frank says:

I just starting to use this gel due to the advise of my doctor and have witness a significant relief from the pain in my knees. Yes there are side affects such as possible dizziness and they are written on the package. I did not get dizzy and I will use it

September 4, 2008 at 3:33 pm
(5) Mercedes says:

If you are allergic to Aspirin don’t use Voltaren

November 6, 2008 at 5:31 am
(6) Fran says:

I began using Voltaren gel after my physician gave me a sample 2 weeks ago and the osteoarthritis pain in my knees is so much better than I have almost thrown away my cane that I have not been able to live without for 6 months!!

December 11, 2008 at 9:11 pm
(7) Sidney says:

I have been on 75mg of Voltaren for 6 months and now I have been diagnosed as depressed, I am dizzy all the time and have headaches in my left temple. What to do

December 11, 2008 at 9:40 pm
(8) Carol says:

Same advice as above….always contact your doctor (who knows your medical history) to discuss bothersome side effects. It may require a medication change or different dose. Your doctor will know what to do next. Hope you feel better soon.

December 24, 2008 at 8:55 pm
(9) Nicole says:

i just started using the voltaren gel about a week ago, although it does seem to stop the pain a little bit it doesnt work AMAZINGLY! it also seemes to make a a little bit dizzy and have gotten a sore throat sience, i think im going to look for somthing diffrent, this was actually prescribed for my sholder.

December 31, 2008 at 8:43 pm
(10) Brigitte Balint says:

I been using Voltaren Gel for the last 15 years. It has been used in europe for many years and I been able to buy the
Voltaren Gel on my trips to Germany from Canada.My sister has also mailed me the gel and for the last 5 years we can get the Gel without an prescription. This has made my back pain and life more liveable. Where can I buy the Voltaren Gel in Canada?

January 7, 2009 at 1:39 am
(11) Carol says:

If you do a Google search for Voltaren Gel in Canada some places come up..for example…http://www.universaldrugstore.com/medications/Voltaren+Gel/1.0%25

But I don’t know their reputation for doing business. You’d have to check into it.

February 5, 2009 at 5:12 pm
(12) Jennifer says:

My husband used Voltaren Gel 2-3 times the first day he used it. The next day several blood vessels popped in one eye. It looks like someone smeared ketchup in his eye and it’s also yellow. The other eye doesn’t have any popped vessels, but it has a yellow tint to it as well. I read about jaundice being a possible side effect. Did this happen to anyone else?

February 15, 2009 at 5:30 am
(13) Carol says:

Report side effects or adverse events to your doctor immediately.

April 18, 2009 at 11:39 am
(14) Oscar says:

I used Voltaren Gel to obtain relief of elbow tendonitis. It worked, but within 2 days, I woke up with lung pain, and later saw a doctor. A chest x-ray revealed wet lung pleurisy. I was given toradol to deal with the pain increasing in severity, but didn’t seem to get results. I was prescribed aveolox for infection. After 5 days, I discontinued use of Voltaren Gel and resumed ibuprophen for pain relief, and lung pain began to reduce dramatically. 2 days later, lung pain nearly gone and use of ibuprophen tapering down. Those tubes of Volteran Gel went into the trash. My breathing is now pain free and I can sleep normally, again.

August 6, 2009 at 1:03 pm
(15) Jackie says:

I have been diagnosed with “degenerative disc disease” which is giving me numbness in arm and lots of pain in neck. Tried the chiroprator which I hated. My internist has just put me on Voltaren twice a day to see if it will help. I trust him as he is excellent and did 5 xrays. Any side effects and how long should stay on it? The pharmacist says give it 10-14 days to see results. Is it safe to take?

September 3, 2009 at 9:40 pm
(16) Mary says:

My doctor prescribed Voltaren Gel for my foot and ankle. My foor got trapped in between rocks while tubing and I had to yank it out abruptly. She said I most likely have ligiment, tendant and muscle damage.
She gave me a ton of sample tubes and I just applied the gel for the first time. I was curious…is this gel like Mineral Ice or Ben Gay where it’s supposed to heat up..Im only asking because it doesnt feel like either of those also how long will it take to feel results?

September 21, 2009 at 2:59 pm
(17) Julie says:

I was on Mobic for 3 months several months ago & developed stomach ulcer issues. I quit the Mobic & my stomach recovered. I have used Voltaren gel on my knee (4g 2x/day) for just 3 days, & my stomach is starting to feel a little uncomfortable again. Could this be stomach ulcers again after only 3 days on the gel?

December 30, 2009 at 2:44 pm
(18) coach says:

I was suffering from ITB syndrome for a couple of years. It’s like having tennis elbow in your hips. I was given Voltaren as part of therapy with a DO and it is great. After about 2 weeks pain is gone entirely. I still do some stretching but that’s it. I had no side effects and would recommend trying it.

March 26, 2010 at 5:12 pm
(19) db says:

You Folks should try PENNSAID ,,, stronger , and fewer side effects JMO


June 17, 2010 at 4:37 pm
(20) Robert H. Stanton says:

Primary care physician gave me 4 sample tubes of Voltaren Gel 1%. I have osteoarthritis in my right knee and arthritis in the left. Elbows, shoulders and hands have all the symptoms of arthritis. After using gel as per instructions I came across a comment on the internet. It said shoulder application had not been studied. In any event I seem to have gotten relief in all areas. The only side effect so far is a swollen right ankle and foot. I have only one application left and will apply it. I have not mentioned the swelling to my doctor.

June 29, 2010 at 1:34 pm
(21) Stephens says:

I was given a perscription for this gel from a Ortho doctor who I saw for shoulder pain. I have Crohn’ s disease and I read on the insert that this can cause gastrointestinal problems. Does anyone know if this will affect my Crohn’s?

July 6, 2010 at 8:45 pm
(22) arthritis says:

Hi Stephens,
You need to ask your doctor.

July 1, 2010 at 3:35 pm
(23) robert zimmermann says:

I have a lot of injurys do to my active life in competetive track and field. When I have imflamation in my knees or achilles I aply about 3 x a day the proper amount. After using it for about 2 month every day I have begone to get tingly numb feeling in my right arm.I also had on my right finger a open wound where the gel possible entered. I wonder if this is a result of that tingly feeling.

July 3, 2010 at 3:31 pm
(24) AJ says:

Dear Nicki Tiffany, if HYALURONIC Acid injections help, why don’t you try taking HYALURONIC Acid gel caps or tablets. They aren’t expensive compared to injections and can be found at a good health food store or http://www.iherb.com. I can tell within a day that they are working on my knees. Now Foods, Hyaluronic Acid, Double Strength, 100 mg, 60 Vcaps or Source Naturals, Injuv, Hyaluronic Acid, 70 mg, 60 Softgels

July 15, 2010 at 8:08 am
(25) margaret mclaren says:

can voitaren gel and voitaren rapeid 25 how diffrent are them .can i take the to of them together on the same day

July 27, 2010 at 10:48 pm
(26) arthritis says:

Hi Margaret,
Since everyone has an individual medical situation — these are questions to ask your doctor.

August 14, 2010 at 8:31 pm
(27) Dianne says:

Has anyone used Voltaren gel on hand or feet for the pain of peripheral neuropathy?

August 14, 2010 at 10:35 pm
(28) veni says:

After reading all the comments I am afraid to use voltren gel. I have crohns and am on an insulin pump with asthma.

September 14, 2010 at 8:09 am
(29) Theojones says:

Always talk with your provider or pharmacist if you have questions about your medications. Be 100% sure how to apply the Voltaren gel, especially how much to use and what joints it has been approved to treat. It IS NOT approved by the FDA to be used on the neck or shoulders. This is an OFF-LABEL use of the medication and the manufacturer does NOT encourage this use.

November 7, 2010 at 1:00 pm
(30) heather says:

Does it help with stenosis?

November 22, 2010 at 2:38 am
(31) heather says:

I have heard that Voltaren gel can be used for acne. Is this true? Can it relieve painful acne?

December 29, 2010 at 11:59 am
(32) rick says:

I got from a Pain Management doctor the following Rx ointment mixed at a specialty pharmacy
Gabapentin / Ketamine / Lidocaine / Marcaine / Amitrypilin / Voltaren in varying percentages. This works great on osteoarthritis and diabetic neuropathy pain. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about it.
I use it on my shoulder OA in modration and it works great!
I also use plain Voltaren Gel 1% when the pain isn’t too bad.
A third thing I use is Lidocaine patches, about $7 dollars a piece Rx.

But the gaba/keta/lido/marc/amit/volt gel is awesome, about $60 for a 30gm tube. Look up a specialty pharmacy. Any Pain management doc should be able to write a script for this.
good luck.

February 5, 2011 at 1:25 am
(33) questn for "coach" says:

It’s been a while since “coach” left his msg, but if you happen to check-in again, I’d really appreciate knowing how to apply to your aching hips…

Nothing seems to get right down in that OA area — not trigger point injections (nor facet joint injections that *used* to do the trick ) which I receive religiously every month for my Fibro pain… even tho I adore my Osteopath + Pain Management partner, I can’t seem to get any relief for my ACHING (understatement) BONES — fingers, whole of hand, wrists, ankles, elbows, knees, shoulders, & neck.

I’m 39, and besides my in-laws running circles around me & my spouse (who has M.S.) when they visit, I see elderly people everywhere who I envy for their vitality.

February 22, 2011 at 7:54 pm
(34) nettie says:

I call my Voltaren gel “magic gel” I have arthritis in right and left knee. I was getting shots in both knees. I haven’t had a shot in 3 months, and don’t expect to get another shot maybe, in another one or two, etc. I do exercise.-

April 10, 2011 at 7:42 pm
(35) serenity449 says:

I used a teeny drop behind both knees and had 1000% immediate relief! Only used once a day. No side effects! People are using way too much and too many times a day. Hence all the side effects!

May 17, 2011 at 10:59 pm
(36) Mike says:

Found a tube of Voltaren Gel in my cabinet. The tube is in german and I live in america and do not speak German. Regardless this stuff works great on my lower back pain. Started working immediately. Although it still hurts to stand or walk i am 50% better. I would highly recommend. Fortunately it has been passed by the FDA and I am able to obtain it in the USA with a script from my Doctor.

July 5, 2011 at 6:09 pm
(37) donna says:

Voltaren gel was prescribed for both of my knees, by a Rhomatologist. While I felt a little relief to the skin and surronding tissue, I still had quite a bit of pain still in side the joint. I have used the gel for just over 2 weeks, I have developed some gastrointestional discomfort along with a very watery, pale in color, dirreaha, going on 5 days.
Also loss in appitite. Not feeling as bad as one would feel with a flu bug, just not right.
Has this been a common side effect? I have never had this pale color stools before. I have contacted the Dr. and will be seeing him soon.

August 8, 2011 at 1:45 pm
(38) Michelle S says:

I have been using the gel following plantar fasciotomy surgery. I have noticed that it does make my foot feel better. I’m not cured, but it relieves the discomfort if I apply 4 times as directed. I have also put it on my wrist which became increasingly sore from the crutches I was using. The pain in my wrist has all but gone away. I haven’t experienced any of the symptoms people have listed above. No weight gain or bowel issues, but then again I am otherwise healthy female in my 30s. I hope this helps!

August 16, 2011 at 11:24 pm
(39) Mike says:

I was just prescribed Voltaren today. However, I don’t seem the exactly meet the most common symptoms for which it is prescribed it would appear. For nearly a week now, I’ve noticed a swelling of my right breast, along with swelling continuing to the area underneath my right arm, accompanied with a good amount of constant pain and moderate discomfort. I was told that before going so far as to perform scans on the area in question, that I should take a full dosage of Ibuprofen 4 times a day, in addition to the use of this new tube of Voltaren. (Which I’m supposed to massage into the inflamed and painful area 4 times a day as well.) So, my question here is this… Based on my symptoms at the moment, do you believe this particular path of treatment is appropriate? I simply wish to hear some opinions. Thank you very much for your time.

August 26, 2011 at 10:33 am
(40) Ginny says:

I just started using Voltaren gel a week ago. My doctor gave me some samples to use on my shoulder. She diagnosed me with bursitis in my shoulder. I seems to be working. I am not having as much pain as before. She told me it would not interfere with my coumadin. That it stays local and does not go through out the body. I am concerned about one of the side effects, retaining fluids and edema. Which I have a problem with before using Voltaren. That is why I take a diuretic. But I have not noticed any worsening of this problem.

September 15, 2011 at 8:04 am
(41) Ron says:

Voltaren gel is Saving my life, I suffer major tinitis in my ears from it but it keeps my lower back pain away, so rather a field of crickets in my ear then pain all day.

September 27, 2011 at 2:48 pm
(42) herschel says:

this stuff isnt anything more than ben gay cost 42.00 a tube thats ridiculous, i wouldnt pay it, i dont have prescription drug coverage so i didnt buy it,, 5 tubes 240.00 fkn dollars
tube of ben gay less than 10.00, piss on this


November 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm
(43) Phyllis says:

Please, can someone tell me if the Voltaren Gel is good for back spasms? I sure hope so…I have some on hand.. Please advise..

December 4, 2011 at 12:50 am
(44) Katie says:

I have foot pain from diabetes (neuropathy) and was using Zostrix cream 44.00 for the tube of Voltaren and so far it was worth the money. It helps stop my pain and burning faster and I can walk much better. I wasn’t going to purchase it as it was pricey but the relief of pain was worth every penny so far. Hope the pain relief doesn’t fade with time.

December 9, 2011 at 3:35 pm
(45) Michelle says:

Yes Phyllis, it works on back spasms. I have SI Joint dysfunction and muscle spasms L3-S1. Pain Mgmt doctor gave me a sample to try before he would prescribe it. It offers a measure of relief. It does not completely stop the pain from the spasms but it seems to be helping me. No side affects so far but have only used it a couple of days. The relief is within 15 minutes of applying.

December 13, 2011 at 1:37 pm
(46) Craig says:

I have been using Voltaren Gel for (1) month now on my left knee cap, which I have Arthritis.
Started out using it (3) times a day. Now I only use it once in the morning and I am not in any pain all day.
I have had no side effects using this product.
I have tried all creams, braces, shots and meds.
Nothing has worked as good as this Voltaren Gel for me.
Will have to have a knee replacement, in the future.

January 16, 2012 at 9:51 pm
(47) Tom says:

I have been using Voltaren Gel for about 2 months now for my shoulder. Gonna have shoulder replacement surgery soon. I started out using it sparingly. It works great! I have had to increase to 2 to 3 times per day. However, I gained weight quickly over the past 3 weeks. No change in diet or routine. Gonna have to come off it. I am swollen,big time.

January 19, 2012 at 9:40 pm
(48) Linda says:

I’ve been taking Voltaren pills for my knees. I have been on them twice a day for two weeks and the pain was getting under control until today when I gained 5 lbs in 24 hours and have extreme swelling in my legs especially the one that has the worst knee pain. I’m calling the doctor tomorrow morning and not going to take my nightly dose tonight.

January 22, 2012 at 11:05 pm
(49) Susan says:

I have been using Voltaren gel for 2 yrs now, Started to use for ankle and it did help, so i put some on spine to reduce pain there, worked so great I got to sleep a ful nites sleep. Never got a side affect, ect, This stuff is like GOLD to me. I feel bad reading about those who got side affectss as none seem to be very good ones… BUT considering I am allergic to 75% of anything I ever tried, I am happy to say THIS HAS HELPED ME SO MUCH!

January 27, 2012 at 9:16 pm
(50) Ana says:

I have been having knee pain so I went to my doctor and he prescribed the Voltaren Gel. Ive used it 3 times today so far and I really dont seem to notice the pain going away. Ive used Lio Patches in my past and they seem to kick in alot faster. Does this gel take a day or two to work? I called my doctor but his office is closed till tuesday. Any info would be helpful thanks!

February 9, 2012 at 5:14 pm
(51) leonard says:

i had ITP in 86 and 87 and also HBP, i was just prescribed voltaren gel for my knee. Since having this blood disorder in the past is this something I should not use. Thanks

February 11, 2012 at 1:04 pm
(52) Michele says:

Ana- I have used it for several things…one of them being knee pain. I’ve never heard of immediate relief from this, nor is that what I’ve experienced in 2 years of using it (as needed). Just recently I used it twice a day on my knees and by the third day, no pain. Stopped using it after the third day and have been fine for weeks. No side effects noticed. Good luck!

February 26, 2012 at 3:37 pm
(53) Jamescovanjr says:

I am out and I got my rx fiilled at a cvs store near my home. They said there is a shortage and they did not have any. I phoned 4 other cvs stores an got the same answer. What is the problem? Voltaren Gelo really helps with the pain in my knees? Please reply .

James M Covan,Jr

February 26, 2012 at 11:51 pm
(54) Melissa says:


It looks like there is a manufacturer shortage right now. Here is a website that lists drug shortages: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/DrugShortages/ucm050792.htm#voltaren

I’d suggest you phone some other pharmacies to see if they can get it. Different distributors might still have some in their warehouses.

March 1, 2012 at 8:11 pm
(55) chris n says:

I live in central.Florida and had trouble getting voltaren…due to shortage but finally came in today. I’ll keep u posted on how of works.

March 21, 2012 at 4:39 pm
(56) Kelley L says:

I just recieved some from my doctor. I already take meds for my back. Lots of problems there. This was for my knee. After reading these comments and some from other sites. I am not even going to open it.

April 26, 2012 at 4:18 am
(57) Fish Aquarium says:

It is really very informative. I donít know that before and had use it some time when I have back pain or else. But up to now I will never use it again. Admin you are doing a great job through this blog. Thanks for sharing.

May 3, 2012 at 4:04 am
(58) Tamer says:

So the final conclusion is:
“Voltaren Gel is a safe way to use with knee and back pain” ?

*Fortunately I live near to Novartis in Egypt.

September 11, 2012 at 7:24 pm
(59) Deb says:

My 18 yr old daughter has lumps in her breast that swell up to a cup size bigger than normal with extreme pain. Doctor has been monitoring these for a year or so trying birth control and cutting out caffeine ect. with no change. 2 weeks ago she went to see doc for other reasons and doc wanted to check her breasts finding another lump that was unlike the rest so she scheduled a sonogram which then led to an app. for a biopsy with another doctor/surgen I wont go into the details of how stupid he made us feel but he would not do the biopsy. Long story short he prescribed Voltaren Gel for her to use on her breasts 2 x dly. This was also questioned by our pharmacist. I am not comfortable with this tx since it isnt approved usage. Help!!!

September 28, 2012 at 7:26 pm
(60) Laura says:

Reactive arthritis in feet. Arthritis in spine. Complications from radiation/chemo. This is the ONLY thing I use! I cannot express how wonderful it is.

October 1, 2012 at 12:57 am
(61) Karen says:


I read with interest that you also had reative arthritis. I had reactive arthritis in my feet due to Salmonella poisoning in Sept 2009. It is not very common.Took me 6 mos to return to work. Still have foot pain and my gait is off. Do you find voltaren gel helps your feet? How long did it take you to recover? Do you know it you can use the gel or zostrix cream on your temples as well?
Thanks for any info, Karen.

April 10, 2013 at 2:44 am
(62) Yikes says:

Thanks for the comments – I’ve since washed it off and chucked the tube in the bin. Not for me!

April 29, 2013 at 3:11 pm
(63) lisa says:

I have some extra new tubes of volteran 100 g if anyone needs that I won’t need. $35 for each. email me if interested. oxrosebudox@gmail.com. I take paypal.

August 19, 2013 at 11:53 am
(64) Catherine says:

I had what I believed to be Psoriasis around my waistline. The itch was excruciating and it was beginning to be raised skin. I was trying everything in my medicine chest along with some ointments from the drugstore. I happened to find a tube of Voltaren Gel in our little “External Meds” basket (this had been prescribed a long time back for my husband). In desperation, I applied a very small amount to my waist line and felt an immediate soothing sensation
. I have continued to use it very sparingly daily and am amazed at the results. Does anyone have a possible answer for this, and could there possibly be an ingredient in this Gel that would be effective for the terrible condition of Psoriasis. I am almost out of this little tube so would appreciate any suggestions. Thank you.

April 13, 2014 at 10:02 pm
(65) Annette says:

has anyone ever tried using Voltaren 1% gel for pinched nerve in spine? I often have this discomfort and wondered if it helped?

April 16, 2014 at 5:59 am
(66) Bronya says:

I used voltaren gel last night on my knee . I was awake all night like i had coffee? Anyone else have insomnia fron it???

April 16, 2014 at 2:48 pm
(67) judith payne says:

is this medication a narcodic

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