Inflammation is behind a lot of chronic disease, including arthritis. That is why nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen are so popular among people with joint pain. However, even though these drugs relieve pain and calm inflammation, they may cause serious side effects such as kidney damage, cardiovascular complications and digestive distress. Sometimes doctors prescribe a topical NSAID such as Pennsaid or Voltaren gel in an effort to get more benefit and less risk. Are there advantages of Voltaren gel?

Enjoying the Advantages of Voltaren Gel:

Q. Both my husband and I have been using a small amount of Voltaren gel for years. This has enabled me to avoid knee replacements and my husband, back surgery.

When I first asked my orthopedic doctor about using the gel, he checked its effect on the kidneys and decided that it was ok to use.

In fact, at first, Voltaren gel wasn’t available in the US. We purchased it in Mexico, Europe or Asia. Now we purchase it OTC in Canada.

Every year we have our “wellness” exams, which include blood tests. Our kidney functions are still fine.

Adverse Effects from Topical NSAIDs:

A. Topical NSAIDs such as diclofenac (Voltaren gel, Pennsaid, Flector) can provide helpful relief for sore joints. Often, topical medication does not trigger the same complications as oral NSAIDS such as diclofenac, ibuprofen, meloxicam or naproxen.

That said, some people are very sensitive to adverse effects of these medicines. Readers have reported heartburn and gastritis as well as elevated blood pressure after applying Voltaren gel.

You’ll find much more information about topical NSAIDs as well as the pros and cons of oral NSAIDs, including celecoxib, indomethacin and ketoprofen, in our 104-page book, The Graedons’ Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis. In it, we also discuss the drawbacks and advantages of Voltaren gel.

Topical NSAIDs such as Voltaren gel are widely available over the counter in many countries. In the U.S., though, a prescription is required.

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