Voltaren 1% gel has a huge fan base, rightly so. Voltaren 1% gel (topical diclofenac) works as well as anti-inflammatory pills for hand and knee pain due to arthritis, with way fewer side effects. Let’s get this straight. Yep, results from 34 studies were reviewed and the topical anti-inflammatory Voltaren gel alleviated pain in the hands or knees more often than oral NSAIDS (ibuprofen, advil, naproxen as examples).
Although skin reactions are more common with Voltaren gel than with pills, the gel does not carry the risk of gastrointestinal bleed (bleeding ulcers and gastritis) or kidney problems. This is a big deal. Many patients will prefer to go the route of rubbing a gel on the sore joint rather than taking a pill that can irritate the gut and the kidneys.
Currently, topical NSAIDS like Voltaren gel should be considered first line treatment for knee and hand pain due to arthritis. Voltaren gel is often used successfully for foot and ankle pain as well. Voltaren gel has not been well studied for pain in hips, spine and shoulders and you can imagine it’s harder to rub the gel on larger areas but I imagine for localized pain (shoulder as an example) we may be heading there with Voltaren gel.