12th April 2024

Voltaren Gel for Foot Pain: What You Need To Know

Dr. Jill Barat, PharmD
Voltaren Gel for Foot Pain: What You Need To Know

Voltaren gel is a popular medication in the drug class NSAIDs.

NSAID stands for Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug, and these medications help reduce the amount of substances in the body that normally cause pain and inflammation, this means that users of NSAIDs often feel less pain and reduced inflammation.

Other medications that are in the NSAID class include popular over-the-counter oral medications like ibuprofen and naproxen.

Volataren is commonly used for foot and ankle pain, among other issues.

1. There is a generic form of Voltaren

Diclofenac, also sometimes written as the salt form Diclofenac Sodium, is the name of the generic form of the medication as well as the name of the active ingredient inside of Voltaren.

The generic Diclofenac, as with all generic drugs, has been verified through the FDA to work the same, have the same ingredients, and have the same pharmacological effects as its brand name Voltaren.

2. You need a prescription for Voltaren

Voltaren, and its generic form Diclofenac, are prescription medications, so you will not be able to find this over the counter, or anywhere other than through a pharmacy with a prescription from a doctor.

3. Voltaren is a topical anti-inflammatory

Anti-inflammatories come in a few different dosage forms, some can be taken by mouth as a tablet or capsule, some can be injected in a healthcare setting, and some can be applied as a gel or cream to directly target smaller areas of the body.

Voltaren and Diclofenac are topical medications, meaning you will rub them externally onto your skin, and they will penetrate the area underneath to deliver anti-inflammatory relief.

Topical medications are helpful in the case of small and confined areas of pain like a foot, hand, or knee, because the patient is able to use less medication, and the medication is going directly where it is needed, not all throughout the body as will oral and injectable forms. Topical medications will often reduce the risk of potential side effects as compared to whole-body dosage options, since less drug is getting into circulation.

4. What Voltaren is commonly used for

Voltaren and Diclofenac gels are FDA-approved for arthritis treatment in locations like the hands, knees, feet, wrists, elbows, or ankles.

Sometimes, these medications will be prescribed off-label for other conditions that respond well to a reduction in pain and inflammation. Off-label uses for medications can be chosen based on your doctor’s medical knowledge and expertise if they think something will be beneficial for you.

5. The potential Voltaren side effects

As with most medications, there is a risk of side effects from using them.

While Voltaren and Diclofenac are generally well tolerated, side effects may occur from their use.

The most common side effects from topical Voltaren and Diclofenac include:

Application site reactions: rash, pain, tingling, burning

Flu-like symptoms: body ache, headache, fever, chills


More serious side effects from topical Voltaren and Diclofenac include:

Heart attack and stroke

GI side effects including ulcers, bleeding, and perforations

Patients with serious cardiac issues, peptic ulcer disease, or gastrointestinal bleeding should not use Voltaren or Diclofenac.

6. How to use Voltaren

Your doctor will provide you with a dosing guide and instructions on how much and how often to apply your medication, be sure to follow your direct instructions.

The general dosing will be to apply the medication to the entire affected area between 1-4 times daily, and rub in well, washing your hands after applying (unless the treatment site is your hands, then do not wash your hands for at least one hour.)

Most packages will come with a dosing card to help you measure out the correct grams of the medication.

If you are treating your lower body including feet, ankles or knees: You will normally be told to apply 4 grams of the product up to 4 times daily, not to exceed 16 grams of product to any single joint daily.

If you are treating your upper extremities like hands, wrists, or elbows: You will normally be told to apply 2 grams of product up to 4 times daily, not to exceed 8 grams of product to any single joint daily.

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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.