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Voltaren Gel - Anyone use for back pain?

cjperkccjperk Posts: 78
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:01 AM in Pain Medications
I've got Voltaren Gel prescribed to me for Tennis Elbow in 2010. I've done a bit of reading about it for back pain, but wanted to see if any of you have used it with success. The theory of putting it on ones back sounds solid. It provides a concentrated dose of NSAID to affected area and provides less of a systematic release of the drug.

If you've used it successfully, did you put it on the muscles or directly over the spine. My pharmacist said be careful putting it over the spine as it could provide a large dose to the fluids. She also said she's not that experienced when it comes to Voltaren Gel.

The information in the box said it has not been evaluated for spine use, but I cannot find any evidence that it's harmful either. I asked my PM about it on Tuesday and he gave me the green light to use it, but didn't have much to say either.

I'm funny about new medications and rightfully so. Thanks for any advice, just trying to use this in the safest possible manner. My back is bothering me so bad now I'm ready to try nearly anything to get it back to where it was.


The oral NSAID I'm currently prescribed is 800mg Ibuprofen. When I first began taking it I can say it was like a miracle cure. I'm having less of an effect from it nowadays, but I've always believed in the powers of NSAID's. Which one worked the best for you? (P.S. I know not to take both Voltaren and Ibuprofen same day). Thx
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Comments

  • I was prescribed voltaren gel for my back issues maybe a year ago. i used it for cervical pain a couple of times. honestly never noticed any improvement with the stuff, and went back to some of my default meds instead.

    as for NSAIDs, i've also done the 600-800mg of ibuprofen and it works ok in general. after using it daily for months on end though it kind of loses its effectiveness as far as i have seen.

    These days, i will take naprosyn (prescription alleve) if i need some form of anti-inflammatory medication. (i can't take steroids, which would be the doc's preference) so next best thing, either 375 or 500mg naprosyn (generic is naproxyn) OTC strength is 220mg. a couple of days on this and things will usually settle down for me.

    I've also taken celebrex, but that caused stomach issues. (then again, 8 months on naprosyn and i had stomach issues then as well.)
    Microdisectomy / hemi-laminectomy 6/2010 and revision 10/2010
    Cervical fusion C4-5 and C5-6 9/2011
    Lumbar Fusion L5-S1 6/2012
  • Thanks for the fast reply!

    You know I had never thought about taking prescription naproxn. I have some of that too from an oral surgery.

    Yes, you're absolutely right. The ibuprofen most definitely loses it's effectiveness over a couple few months. I think it's bad on a daily basis too, just too harsh on your stomach and kidneys.

    I had an adverse reaction to oral steroids when all of this began as well. I swelled up really bad and couldn't sleep. I was extremely hyper from it. I'm sitting on a script of prednisone that I've reserved for the worst of worst days. I'm half tempted to take it now as I'm having a worst experience this week. I cannot afford to start the ascending/descending dose and this stuff keep me awake. I know I'm going to swell up too. The sleep loss is what I'm most worried about. Maybe one of my Muscle Relaxers would be enough to knock me out?!?

    I'll give the naproxn a try. Any other stories about Voltaren are appreciated. I've done some internet research on the stuff (for back) and read just enough to make me worried. A few people said they were dizzy, sleepy, passed out, etc.
  • i've gave up the steroids after several lumbar epidurals, and reluctantly a couple of cervical ones. but what sold me on giving up steroids was the 2 week migraine headache after a single days worth of a medrol pack. There is no way a 2 week migraine is better than the back pain.

    as for being able to sleep, Soma knocks me out completely. i don't even take it, unless i am that desperate and have the entire next day to spend in bed sleeping. i've got a weaker script, robaxin, which doesn't work nearly as well, but i doesn't knock me out sleepwise either.

    if nothing else, i can say i've got a pharmacy in my medicine cabinet, and would love to be able to get rid of all of it.
    Microdisectomy / hemi-laminectomy 6/2010 and revision 10/2010
    Cervical fusion C4-5 and C5-6 9/2011
    Lumbar Fusion L5-S1 6/2012
  • I feel ya about the pharmacy in cabinet. I too get Soma as needed. To be honest I prefer it over Flexeril. The Flexeril bugs me out. At least with the Soma you can break it in to 1/2's or 1/4's. I don't take it either unless absolutely necessary, but to me it works best out of the MR's. A PM I saw Tuesday wants me to go on Skelaxin or something because of Soma's addictive properties. I've only ever heard a doctor say something's addictive twice. That's already too much.

    If something works it works, you know. It's not like I'm popping Soma's 4x per day or even daily for that matter. I only get 30 per month. He'd rather me take "better" medicine in Cymbalta. Ok, end rant.

    Flushing, bloating, and extreme anxiousness is what happened to me on the prednisone. It might be worth me trying if the Soma could put me to sleep on it.
  • don't you just love that you need to take other meds to get through the side effects of the med you're supposed to be taking. that's like when my old doc was pushing the medrol pack, and i kept telling him if i take it, i'll also be taking fioricet for the migraines for 2 weeks due to 5 days worth of pills. do i need to get hooked on fioricet to get through the steroid packs?

    i never did flexeril, i tend to shy away from the muscle relaxers because they make me so sleepy. last time i did soma for 2 or 3 nights in a row, i literally slept for the entire week. i was completely non functional.

    i've been through half a dozen NSAIDs, and at least 4 or 5 narcotic pain killers. i've only ever had luck with the naprosyn, and oxycodone. (and the oxy, can't even be as percocet, the tylenol in them too seems to make me dizzy as all get out.)

    maybe a diuretic at the same time as the steroid would help keep the bloating down? And then we're back to meds to deal with the meds.


    Microdisectomy / hemi-laminectomy 6/2010 and revision 10/2010
    Cervical fusion C4-5 and C5-6 9/2011
    Lumbar Fusion L5-S1 6/2012
  • Yep, we're in for the long haul with this back pain. Stacking drugs to counteract side effects is the reality of NSAID's and other type drugs.

    Some of this stuff is really nasty.

    I'll tell you, the supposed "bad" addictive drugs that actually have let me live a somewhat normal life are better than their "supposed" non-addictive counterparts. I've been berated by a couple of specialists about the dangers of these drugs (not by the prescriber who actually knows me as a person). That does a number on my mind a bit, some of these guys lack the couth of treating a patient with respect. The PM I saw tuesday was all over me about taking the Soma and SIII narcotic.

    The worse part is he had no real solution for treating my lumbar back pain. What he had me try hurt me worse. That's the big reason I've spent all of my free time in the past 48 hours on the internet reading and communicating. I don't want to be on medicine, heck I never took a dang thing before all of this began.

    Some of this supposed good stuff is 10x worse than the bad in my humble opinion. I've most definitely experienced the worst side effects on the 'non-addictive' stuff that still produces DEPENDENCY. SSNRI's produce dependency just as bad if not worse as anything (He wants me on Cymbalta for long term back pain)

    The NSAID's can be a god send, but long term use is dangerous. I'm rambling on out of frustration, please forgive me. I've just not been offered a decent plan of action so I'm trying to think of anything right now - The Voltaren was staring at me in medicine cabinet so I asked.

    I've taken Ibuprofen today so I'm going to wait until tomorrow evening to try the Voltaren. I'll let you all know if it helped. Cheers, and thanks again for chatting. It really means a lot sharing experiences with people in the same situation. I'll definitely let you guys know how the Voltaren works.

  • but its useless on my lower back but good on my shoulder .{so muscle pain ok } bone and nerve pain [For me.. not good ]
    tony
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • I would use the Flector patch which releases the medicine into the skin...It is an NSAID....

    And I found this to be very effective on certain spots...As well as it not being messy and easy to use.

    You cannot use other NSAIDs at the same time....So obviously this would all be discussed with your Dr.

    But just saying that there are different options if the gel does not work well.

    Are you doing any PT like daily exercises for your lumbar region..Aqua therapy? Stretching/yoga...massage? Acunpuncture?

    As we know...it's never just about one treatment...Everything is a building block to reduce the pain to a decent level like a 5...
  • Lovetrotravel said:

    Are you doing any PT like daily exercises for your lumbar region..Aqua therapy? Stretching/yoga...massage? Acunpuncture?

    .
    Yes I am. Tuesday I saw a guy who hurt me worse. I'm really, really hoping that it's acute and not has not caused another condition. Far to early to tell, but prior to Tues., I was indeed doing PT type exercises for both Lumbar and Cervical.

    I use a 'bouncy' ball for the lumbar quite often. Core exercises, and stretches. I stretch my legs daily. In the evening, I do practice Yoga type exercises at home. I was at a plateau with my home stuff which prompted me to visit the injection doctor. He basically sent me to get hurt worse.

    I'm starting a new round of true PT this afternoon ( i think it will be my 7th round), I'm hoping they can fix me up and at least get me back to where I was. The foot numbness is scaring me. I've never had it last this long. Today at work both feet went numb. In 8 years of lumbar pain/issues, I've never had my right foot numb at all. Scary stuff, who knows what this Chiropractor did to me... PT has fixed up neuro issues in my neck before, I'm hoping they can with my low back as well. Hope they have new exercises I can do.

    I've read a little on the patches, not much. I may ask my PCP about them next appt. I'm going to see how the VG helps tonight or this weekend.
  • Yea....I've never been fond of seeing a Chiropractor....and am VERY lucky that my Orthopedic surgeon when this pain started years ago, never recommended me to do this as it could have paralyzed me or made it worse..

    It sounds like the PT they are doing is not effective and making things better....That's why I asked about aqua therapy and other things that would be very easy on the spine..

    And sorry that I don't know all your history...but when was the last MRI to see how things are going? Or have they said that surgery is not needed right now....(which would be great...but obviously then it takes time finding non surgical ways to manage)...

    Are you also on a nerve pain medication?

    Hopefully the appt. will go well...keep us posted..
  • Lovetrotravel said:
    Yea....I've never been fond of seeing a Chiropractor....and am VERY lucky that my Orthopedic surgeon when this pain started years ago, never recommended me to do this as it could have paralyzed me or made it worse..

    It sounds like the PT they are doing is not effective and making things better....That's why I asked about aqua therapy and other things that would be very easy on the spine..

    And sorry that I don't know all your history...but when was the last MRI to see how things are going? Or have they said that surgery is not needed right now....(which would be great...but obviously then it takes time finding non surgical ways to manage)...

    Are you also on a nerve pain medication?

    Hopefully the appt. will go well...keep us posted..
    I've never been fond of a Chiropractor either. I was recommended to go to one by a new PM doctor whom I've visited Tuesday. Not in a million years did I think the Chiro would hurt me. In fact I did not know he was going to try a manual adjustment. I thought I was going there to be worked on (stretched, massaged, etc) because I'm so knotted up. That's what the RX said - Stretch, I couldnt much read the rest.

    The PT has really helped get me to a baseline pain level, I've not been able to break through it. Some days are worse, never really 'better' and I'm using that term loosely. Occasionally I'll sleep the wrong way and wake up much worse.

    The PT I saw today told me I'm (his exact words ) "Super tight from neck to butt". He said he thought when this Chiro tried to adjust me, that my back thought it was an injury and caused all of these muscles to guard further. He said he believed that the Sciatic nerve is being compressed from muscle guarding and that through PT, we could at least get me back to where I was. I believe him and it gave me much hope. I'm a firm believer in PT as I'm sure many of you are. Again it's helped me, just not cured me.

    No I've never tried Aqua or Acupuncture. I'm willing to try anything right now. Trust me though, I'm staying away from anything that could possibly injure me.

    Thank you so very much for listening and talking with me. I've only been on this board for less than a week, but it's already provided me with much mental relief.


    Here's a breif medical history -

    07/2004 Lumbar pain begins. Didnt have insurance, but it was manageable through PT like exercises.

    12/2008 Developed crick in neck. Crick never went away. Went to a Chiropractor, made me worse. Finally went to the doctor - MRI showed 3-level bulge, c5/c6 being worst. Tried PT several rounds (not sessions). Pain is manageable. Arm pain disappears.

    06/2009 Consult with Interventional PM and also Ortho surgeon. Surgeon tells me C-spine bulge is bad enough that he didnt think I should get injection. Come see him if I want operation. I didnt.

    2009-2010 Much conservative treatment. Insurance bought a "brand name" home traction unit. It works well for stretching,etc. Pain is maneageable and I finally get a handle on dealing with the numbness.

    06/2011 Something happened and all of a sudden my whole back goes in to freak mode. I deal with it for a week, then make appt. with Injection doctor. He orders a Lumbar MRI to see what's going on. MRI reveals a L5/SI bulge, but doctor thinks something else is going on. Orders more PT. I do the PT but PT person tells me otherwise. I never return to PM. doctor.

    01/2012 Cervical pain is manageable, lumbar pain really starts bothering me. I deal with it a while. Levator muscle begins spasms again, my whole back goes in to bad mode again. I decide enoughs enough and I'm going to go consult for injections again.

    03/06/2012 I go see PM on Tuesday. He looks at my films, tells me Lumbar is caused by MPS - Disc is not making this pain. Also tells me he thinks injection in to levator muscle will further flare it. Go see Chiro for stretch on special table. Have them do soft tissue work. I do exactly what he said and this guy hurts me. I call Thursday morning and tell them what happened, I demand (in nicest possible way) that they get me in to PT ASAP to try and fix whatever happened. I was not taking no for an answer. I'd have been on the horn with PCP if they said no to PT.

    There you have it!

    Anyways, back to the Voltaren, I put 1g on the dose card and applied it directly over the pain area on my low back (l4 / s). It's too early to tell if it's helping. I did not feel anything instantly.
  • use it every day. It helps so much with my cervical pain. Unfortunately, it is on backorder from the manufacturer with no information on when it will be available again. I've called every pharmacy within 20 miles and no one has any. I really miss it and all the alternatives suggested by the pharmacist are either not covered by my insurance or too much $$.:-(
  • maddysmom said:
    use it every day. It helps so much with my cervical pain. Unfortunately, it is on backorder from the manufacturer with no information on when it will be available again. I've called every pharmacy within 20 miles and no one has any. I really miss it and all the alternatives suggested by the pharmacist are either not covered by my insurance or too much $$.:-(
    Hi Maddysmom.


    Do you rub the gel on your spine or on your muscles surrounding the spine? I used a little on my back the other day and didnt notice much. The doctor told me to rub it over the pain but didnt really specify.

    Nobody has really given me much information on how to use this stuff, so I'm just not quite sure. I've got enough to last 1/2 a lifetime.

    Also, are you using 1g or 2g per dose? Thanks and hope you find your medicine! cj
  • I use the 1% and wasn't aware there was a 2%. Maybe I'll ask my doctor for that next time. I have used it on my lower back with decent pain reduction. I've heard the skin on our back is the thickest (to protect the spine) haha :-) so it doesn't seem to absorb as well as my neck and shoulder, but I can definitely get some relief, so will continue to use it. Have you tried electrodes for the back? They give me a lot of relief. I also find Tramadol and Zanaflex really help too. It's really a blend of things to keep my pain under control. Stretching and low impact walking, etc.
  • maddysmom said:
    I use the 1% and wasn't aware there was a 2%. Maybe I'll ask my doctor for that next time. I have used it on my lower back with decent pain reduction. I've heard the skin on our back is the thickest (to protect the spine) haha :-) so it doesn't seem to absorb as well as my neck and shoulder, but I can definitely get some relief, so will continue to use it. Have you tried electrodes for the back? They give me a lot of relief. I also find Tramadol and Zanaflex really help too. It's really a blend of things to keep my pain under control. Stretching and low impact walking, etc.
    Sorry I didnt clarify -

    I didnt mean 1% or 2%, but on my dose cards, there's a 1 gram or 2 gram option. 1 gram is 1/2 of the card, 2 grams is the entire strip on the card.

    Wow I'm rather excited! This stuff might be exactly what I need for my low back.

    I've tried a TENS type unit for my neck/shoulder area - it didnt seem to do much to be honest. I have a reaction to Tramadol and honestly didnt get enough relief from it.

    So where exactly are you putting it? Directly over your spine? Thanks so much! cj
  • I used those measuring strips for the first few times and it was a pain. I just squeeze it from the tube....not too much. Enough to lightly cover the area....and yes, right where the pain is. To be honest, I usually take a hot bath or shower and then apply it....it seems to absorb into the skin better. Application to my lumbar spine twice a day works pretty good for me. Good luck with the gel!

    Oh, and one more thing. The pharmacist told me there is an alternative to the Voltaren and it's strength is greater. It's called Solaraze 3%. Have no idea about the cost, but I'm paying $30 a tube for the Voltaren with insurance. It's a shame I can't take the pills because they're so cheap, but they rip my stomach to shreds.
  • I have had lower back pain C4/5 from a herniated disk on and off for years and personally found prescription ibuprofen (800mg) to work, but now have found that a regular routine of stretching/yoga and strengthening exercises keep me pretty pain free. Also, just don't lift anything heavy - that's key.

    However, I have had arm pain caused from arthritis in my C6/7 area. I tried various medications and found Volteran pill form in the 100mg/once daily to be very, very helpful, although I don't like the idea of having to subject my liver to it long term. So I am trying the Volteran gel topically and it works as well. Might be some concern that it gets in the spinal fluids, but so does a pill. I had a nerve block shot that helped a bit, maybe, but certainly not worth doing again. The docs say fusion, which to me, is a VERY last resort.

    So right now the least intrusive seems to be the gel. I am lucky I live in Mexico and can buy it generic for $2.50 a tube!
  • Most insurance plans will pay for a 3-month supply of medicines, at a greatly reduced cost. For example, once the frequent use of Voltaren gel proved useful (I cannot take oral NSAIDS), I asked the Dr. to please find a way to help with the cost, but only if he was comfortable with that. Neither of us wanted to abuse the system, so he wrote it for a '90 day supply'. At the pharmacy, they simply asked how much & how often it was needed. The savings was hundreds of dollars!!

    Even if you do not require large amounts of it, there is a savings program available from the manufacturer. Just google 'Voltaren Gel savings card', and go to the maker's website.
  • HI guys just reading your thread after 3 am and can't sleep.
    I just wanted to toss in a thought I have major lumbar and cervical issues and did a lot of pool therapy that did help.
    Once my number of visits ran out with insurance I noticed the pool was being used for these classes and I asked them. They are set up by the arthriris foundation. The water has to be warm about 93 degrees. Class is about 1 hour
    45 mins of moving all joints the first week or two will kick your nutt and then it gets easy, The best part of he program is the last 15 mins I hang in a cars inertub, This hang time helps take off any compression from your joints It is the only thing that helps me now. PT was 129.00 for the same, A rthritis class it only cost $35 dollars for 2 classes a day for weeks I have doing this for almost a year now, its a hassel sometimes to get there but its worth it
    The program is called twinges and hinges
    Just a thought
    Riick
  • janiskijjaniski Posts: 682
    edited 09/08/2012 - 4:20 AM
    I was prescribed voltaren gel (I already take it orally) but it wasn't available yet and at a high cost when it did come available. I was visiting friends who live in Mexico and got some there for very cheap. I do not find it is very effective on my low spine but have also tried it on my shoulder. I am fused L1-S1 and now experiencing SI joint dysfunction so maybe it is too large an area to be effective.

    jani
    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • junipurrwindjjunipurrwind Posts: 53
    edited 09/18/2012 - 6:00 PM
    Hey Maddysmom, wish I could give you my Voltaren gel. I have 3 brand new tubes I won't be using. It doesn't work for me. What issues are you having with your neck & shoulder? Just wondering because that's where my problems have been for many years & the gel doesn't work for me. I wonder why that is? Everyone's different I suppose!

    I wish they had some kind of medication trade program where you could trade someone the meds that don't work for you, but they work for someone else & vice-versa. Wouldn't that be nice? I'm like tran92, I have a medicine cabinet full of stuff I'd like to get rid of!
    Junipurrwind

    ACDF C5-C6 01/2002
    ACDF C6-C7 12/2011
    Prognosis: Permanent nerve damage in hands/arms, all treatment options exhausted-- lifetime CPP
  • Hi, I am now using Pennsaid for topical use on my cervical area. I don't know if Voltaren is being distributed again since it went on backorder in January. I gave up asking about it sometime in March. Pennsaid works ok, but I like Voltaren better. Pennsaid is considerably more expensive also.Sorry the Voltaren didn't work for you. I've been on the medication merry-go-round along with many others....not fun.
  • I did something to my lower back and my hubby even had to pull me up to get off the sofa. I spread the V gel on both sides of my spine, on my lower back, quite liberally and went to sleep. The next morning I was 50% better, and 90% better the next day. I was amazed at how well it worked. I have Rheum Arth and am using it on my hands and ankles, mostly. But, I will use it again if I get any other muscle strain.
  • ScubaSScuba Posts: 39
    edited 02/03/2013 - 3:36 AM
    I know of a few people that use Voltaren Gel, and it does seem to provide them with some pain relief, unfortunately due to my Aspirin Allergy I am unable to use it. I use Deep Relief which contains Menthol daily.
    Take Care.
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