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What Are Diclofenac Suppositories?

By Clara Kedrek
Updated Feb 11, 2024
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Diclofenac suppositories are preparations of a medication called diclofenac that are administered in a suppository form, inserted into the rectum. The medication works as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), and is used to decrease the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. Side effects of this drug can include headache, nausea, increased risk for bleeding, and rectal pain.

The medication in diclofenac suppositories exerts its beneficial effects by acting as an anti-inflammatory medication. It inhibits a variety of chemical reactions in the body, including some processes that result in inflammation and the sensation of pain. Other medications in the NSAID class include ibuprofen, indomethacin, meloxicam, and naproxen.

Typically, diclofenac suppositories are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Both of these conditions affect the structure and function of the joints in the body, causing pain and inflammation. By taking this medication, patients with arthritis experience relief of their joint pain. The benefit of using the suppository over taking a pill is that it can offer extended pain relief, and when taken before bed can help decrease the morning stiffness that is often characteristic of these types of arthritis.

Usually, diclofenac suppositories are administered to patients once a day. They typically take diclofenac pills in the morning and afternoon, and then administer a diclofenac suppository in the evening. Commonly a suppository contains either 50 or 100 mg of the medication. Diclofenac suppositories are not available in the US, but are available in other countries including Canada. The medication often goes by the brand name Voltaren®.

Side effects of diclofenac suppositories can include headache, rash, abdominal pain, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, and ringing in the ears. Use of the suppository, as compared to other forms of diclofenac, adds the possibility of side effects including irritation of the rectum, worsening of hemorrhoids, and rectal bleeding. Chronic use of medications in the NSAID class of medications can increase the risk for bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract, since these drugs weaken the protective lining of this part of the body.

Although diclofenac suppositories are typically well tolerated, patients with certain underlying medical conditions should avoid this medication because they could experience more severe side effects. For example, patients with decreased renal function should avoid the drug. The presence of any known bleeding, including gastrointestinal bleeding or bleeding in the brain, means that patients should not take diclofenac. Having hepatic impairment and severe congestive heart failure are other reasons why the medication should be avoided.

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Discussion Comments
By anon348850 — On Sep 20, 2013

Can suppositories reduce side effects on ulcer patient since they are administered via the rectum. At least the first stage of metabolism is bypassed.

By candyquilt — On Aug 13, 2013

Diclofenac suppositories are old. My father had used them more than twenty years ago. And now I have been prescribed the same.

By serenesurface — On Aug 13, 2013

@simrin-- I've been using diclofenac suppositories and they have not given me any stomach issues.

The only side effect I experience from them is bloating, but my doctor said that this is normal with suppositories.

After I insert it, I have to lie down and rest so that it melts and gets absorbed. If I move around, it can leak and become messy. Resting seems to prevent that.

It's relieving my pain and inflammation very well. You should definitely ask your doctor about diclofenac suppositories if you're not happy with the tablets.

By SteamLouis — On Aug 12, 2013

I've used diclofenac tablets before and they were very hard on my stomach. They gave me stomach cramps and pain.

I assume that diclofenac suppositories are better. I mean, it's not going through the stomach, so it won't harm the stomach right?

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