What Is the Diclofenac Patch Used For?

The diclofenac patch can help relieve pain caused by sprains, strains, or bruises. It is approved for short-term use only and is applied to the most painful area twice a day. Occasionally, healthcare providers may also recommend this medication for off-label purposes. Off-label uses of the diclofenac patch may include the treatment of osteoarthritis (or other types of arthritis) or chronic pain.

What Is the Diclofenac Patch Used For?

The diclofenac patch (Flector® Patch) is a prescription pain medication. Specifically, it is approved to treat acute (short-term) pain due to sprains, strains, or bruises (contusions). The patch is applied directly to the skin over the area that hurts the most and is changed twice a day.
 
A sprain is a stretching (or even small tearing) of a ligament, while a strain is a similar injury to a muscle or tendon. Strains commonly occur in the back of the hamstring, and sprains commonly occur in the ankle or thumb. Both injuries can cause significant pain, but sprains are more likely to cause swelling, and strains are more likely to involve muscle spasms.
 

How Do Diclofenac Patches Work?

The diclofenac patch contains diclofenac, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). The patch releases the medication slowly into the skin where it is applied. Like other NSAIDs, it works by blocking a specific enzyme known as cyclooxygenase (COX), blocking the production of various inflammatory substances in the body.
 
However, because it works mostly where it is applied (only a small fraction of the medication actually reaches the rest of the body), the diclofenac patch helps to lower the exposure to the rest of the body (which may decrease the risk of dangerous side effects).
 

Diclofenac Patch Use in Children

The diclofenac patch is not approved for children. Talk with your child's healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of using diclofenac in children. It is important to note that there is only one strength (and only one recommended dosage) for the diclofenac patch, which may be too high for many children.
 
Alternative Therapies for Pain Management

Diclofenac Patch Drug Information

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