People who use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (other than aspirin) such as transdermal diclofenac may have a higher risk of having a heart attack or a stroke than people who do not use these medications. These events may happen without warning and may cause death. The risk may be higher for people who use NSAIDs for a long time. Tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family has or has ever had heart disease, a heart attack, or a stroke; if you smoke; and if you have or have ever had high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes. Get emergency medical help right away if you experience any of the following symptoms: chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness in one part or side of your body, or slurred speech.
If you will be undergoing a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG; a type of heart surgery), you should not use transdermal diclofenac right before or right after the surgery.
NSAIDs such as transdermal diclofenac may cause swelling, ulcers, bleeding, or holes in the stomach or intestines. These problems may develop at any time during treatment, may happen without warning symptoms, and may cause death. The risk may be higher for people who use NSAIDs for a long time, are older in age, have poor health, smoke, or drink alcohol while using transdermal diclofenac . Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors and if you have or have ever had ulcersor bleeding in your stomach or intestines, or other bleeding disorders. Tell your doctor if you take any of the following medications: anticoagulants ('blood thinners') such as warfarin (Coumadin); aspirin; other NSAIDs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn); or oral steroids such as dexamethasone (Decadron, Dexone), methylprednisolone (Medrol), and prednisone (Deltasone). If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop using transdermal diclofenac and call your doctor: stomach pain, heartburn, vomiting a substance that is bloody or looks like coffee grounds, blood in the stool, or black and tarry stools.
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will monitor your symptoms carefully and will probably take your blood pressure and order certain tests to check your body's response to transdermal diclofenac. Be sure to tell your doctor how you are feeling so that the doctor can prescribe the right amount of medication to treat your condition with the lowest risk of serious side effects.
Your doctor or pharmacist will give you the manufacturer's patient information sheet (Medication Guide) when you begin treatment with transdermal diclofenac and each time you refill your prescription. Read the information carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. You can also visit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website ( Web Site) to obtain the Medication Guide.
Transdermal diclofenac is used to treat short-term pain due to minor strains, sprains, and bruises. Diclofenac is in a class of medications called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It works by stopping the body's production of a substance that causes pain.
Transdermal diclofenac comes as a patch to apply to the skin. Diclofenac patches are usually applied two times a day, once every 12 hours. Apply diclofenac patches at around the same times every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Do not apply more or fewer patches or apply patches more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Do not apply diclofenac patches to skin that is broken, damaged, cut, infected, or covered by a rash.
Do not let the patches come in contact with your eyes, nose, or mouth. If the patch does touch your eye, wash the eye out immediately with water or saline. Call a doctor if there is eye irritation that lasts for more than one hour.
Do not wear a patch while bathing or showering. Plan to bathe or shower after you remove a patch and before you apply the next patch.
To apply diclofenac patches, follow these steps:
- Wash the skin area where you will apply the patch with soap and water. Do not use any moisturizing soaps, lotions, astringents, or other skin care products on the chosen skin area.
- Completely dry the skin area where you will be applying the patch.
- Cut open the envelope containing the patches, cutting on the dotted line and making sure not to cut the zipper seal just below it.
- Pull apart the zipper seal on the envelope and remove one patch. Reseal the envelope by squeezing the zipper seal together. Make sure the envelope is closed tightly to keep the patches inside from drying out.
- Fold over one corner of the patch and gently rub the folded corner between your finger and thumb to separate the patch from the clear liner that is attached to the sticky side. Peel off the entire liner.
- Firmly press the patch into place on the chosen skin area. Press down around all four edges to secure the patch.
- The patch may begin to peel off while you are wearing it. If this happens, tape down the edges of the patch with first aid tape.
- When you remove a patch, fold it in half so that it sticks to itself and throw it away in a garbage can that is out of the reach of children and pets.
- Wash your hands when you are finished applying or handling the patch.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Before using diclofenac patches,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to diclofenac (Cambia, Cataflam, Pennsaid, Voltaren, Solaraze, Zipsor, in Arthrotec), aspirin, or other NSAIDs; any other medications; or any of the other ingredients in diclofenac patches. Ask your pharmacist or check the Medication Guide for a list of the ingredients. Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you have asthma, growths in your nose, or an ongoing runny nose and if you have had an asthma attack, hives, difficulty breathing or swallowing, or an allergic reaction after taking aspirin, an aspirin-containing product, or any other NSAID medication. Your doctor will probably tell you not to use diclofenac patches.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention the medications listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section and any of the following: acetaminophen (Tylenol, other products);angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors such as benazepril (Lotensin, in Lotrel), captopril (Capoten, in Capozide), enalapril (Vasotec, in Lexxel and Vaseretic), fosinopril (Monopril), lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril, in Prinzide and Zestoretic), moexipril (Univasc, in Uniretic); perindopril (Aceon), quinapril (Accupril, in Accuretic and Quinaretic), ramipril (Altace), and trandolapril (Mavik, in Tarka); certain antibiotics; cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune); diuretics ('water pills'); lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid); medications for seizures; and methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
- tell your doctor if you have severe diarrhea or vomiting or think you may be dehydrated, if you drink or have a history of drinking large amounts of alcohol, and if you have or have ever had any of the conditions mentioned in the IMPORTANT WARNING section,; swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs;or kidney or liver disease.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, especially if you are in the last few months of your pregnancy, you plan to become pregnant, or you are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while using diclofenac patches, call your doctor.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are using diclofenac patches.
- you should know that during treatment with diclofenac patches it may be harder to know if you have an infection or illness because this medication may also lower or prevent fever. Call your doctor if you are not feeling well or have other signs of an infection or illness.
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
Apply a new patch as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next scheduled application, skip the missed dose and continue your regular schedule. Do not apply an extra diclofenac patch to make up for a missed dose.
Transdermal diclofenac may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- dryness, redness, itching, swelling, irritation, or numbness at application site
- changes in taste
- tingling skin
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, call your doctor immediately:
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- swelling of the face or throat, arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- unexplained weight gain
- worsening of asthma
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
- extreme tiredness
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- lack of energy
- loss of appetite
- pain in the upper right part of the stomach
- flu-like symptoms
- dark-colored urine
- blisters on skin
- pale skin
- fast heartbeat
Diclofenac patches may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while using this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online [at Web Site] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children and pets. Store it at room temperature. Throw away any medication that is unused or no longer needed within three months after you open the envelope containing the patches. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
If someone swallows, chews, or sucks on diclofenac patches, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
Do not let anyone else use your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.
Last Reviewed: June 13, 2013.