Pain Concern

Chronic Back Pain/Disc Trouble, Voltarol Prescription

I have suffered with terrible back pain since the age of 19. I was very fit and active as a younger man. Unfortunately I was only diagnosed correctly after Physio and other GP recommended treatments had intensified the pain and caused a situation where I spent 7 weeks on the floor and about 4 months of constant severe pain before any normality returned to my life.

I have 2 discs protruding , one is almost constantly resting on nerve endings which causes numbness in my legs/feet and severe agonising cramps in my calf muscle. Also pain while sitting, standing and walking.

Voltarol was prescribed years ago and IT HELPS so much , reducing swelling and providing substantial relief. Yesterday my GP refused to give me Voltarol and gave me Naproxen instead. I could not get a straight answer as to why they will not issue Voltarol except that it can cause health issues. What drugs Don't?

The fact that Votarol can be purchased in Boots makes me think that it is safer than most and must work.

Is this purely a Financial Issue and are the NHS playing games with my standard of life and state of my health.

Surgeons I have seen offered surgery but I try to live as long as possible before going down that route. Has anyone else suddenly had their medication changed?

11 Replies


BOB here

Lately I have not seen what medications have been yellow flagged. Again I have not heard if Volterol, an old medication has been red flagged (withdrawn)

Many medications for pain and NSIDs have been withdrawn over the last twenty years , many of these medications have some risks too health and we are walking a narrow line sometimes when taking them. The older tablets did what they did well at that time

Remember we all who suffer chronic conditions need to make trade offs regarding our medications, we have to understand these trade ofs and understand the contraindication of each medication. Possibly your GP thinks something less harsh to your system is a good idea. Or the medication as done its job

My medication has been tweeked over the last thirty years and contraindications regarding these is always taken into consideration. Pain Management, will also show you how to manage your GPs selection. Generally these problems will be picked up by the hospital also

Remember things change over the years, we need that progression to control our conditions

Hope this helps

All the best



Hi, I get your point. I was told that Votarol may increase the risk of Heart Attacks and Strokes. Unfortunately the main side effects of the replacement Naproxen are an increase risk of Strokes and Heart Attacks. Now I will probably accept my surgeons offer of surgery to remove the problem discs as the pain will no longer be manageable as it has largely been. What will this cost the NHS compared to me paying for Voltarol on prescription??


What would it cost for you to be bad for the rest of your life and the treatments associated with your complaint.

All medications have contra indications. We have to always take informed choices on the medications benefits,


I have had 3 prescriptions of Voltarol 50 which I pay for as I am employed over the last 2 years. I purchase Solpadine Plus from the Pharmacy myself as I find it more effective than anything prescribed over the years. This was recommended by the Pharmacist and costs the NHS nothing. Before that I have managed this condition for more than 20 years with Infrequent prescriptions of Voltarol whenever a Flare Up occurs. Now after 2 days without Voltarol all the worst pains and symptons are mounting up which may end up with me on the floor in Absolute Agony unable to move, with a visit to hospital for Surgery. This is what my Specialist predicts if the discs cause so much swelling of the Nerves that I may be rendered incontinent for life and sexually impotent. I have not had a single sick day over this 2 year period of self medication but hate to think how much an Operation and Medication for the alternative problems which may be coming.


Almost forgot, my wifes cousin is a Pharmacist in Ireland and she has informed me that the only reason that many medications are being withdrawn is purely for financial reasons and the NHS will try to fob more and more of us off with cheap generic Knock Offs of the original High Quality Ingredients of the more expensive Named products.


Hi, I have joined today and I can relate a little to what you are saying....I have had chronic pain for about 40 years and have had everything to no avail. however a few years ago I tried etoricoxib which was the first drug that has improved the pain and my flexibility. It has been taken off me because I have heart disease and gives extra risk of heart attack. (this applies to all NSAIDS apparently including voltarol) I said I would take the risk as it improved my quality of life to a much better degree , I carried on for a while and on the next hospital check for my heart I was refused it. I have stable angina and I am so angry at the power these people have and get annoyed at the fact that some doctors would have allowed me to carry on and it is really luck of the draw. My original consultant allowed it but he left, I have now been discharged anyway and am still not allowed the drug. I am sorry about your situation, you have my sympathy and understanding!!


My Specialist told me if Voltarol worked then I should stay on it and self medicate as it seemed to be working for me, although he is amazed that I continue to have a largely normal life as many of his patients disc problems are not as severe as mine and they jump at the surgery option. Maybe my core strength due to much weight training, which I still do 5 days a week has helped. It just drives me mad that I was coping pretty well and now they have taken Votarol from me when I have no Heart or Blood Pressure issues and replaced it with Naproxen which also has a high risk of Heart Attacks or Strokes. If Votarol is so dangerous why has it now been made available in Boots as over the counter medication?? Again I say it is purely financial !

I hope you can find some solution to your years of pain and frustration.


I have the same spinal problems as yourself and my discs are in a dreadful state.I have had ankylosing spondyitis for almost 40 years and my spine is so calcified I can no onger have facet joint injections.The pain is now so intense I am taking huge amountd of painkillers including oxycodone pethidine, methadone and tapentadol and I'm still in pain


Lets hope a new treatment is on the horizon. I sympathise with your situation.


I used to be a nurse and always take an interest in pharmacology. I use a site This gives both the Patient Information Leaflets (PILS) which are what comes with your medication and Specific Product Characteristics (SPCs) whi ch are much more detailed. You may find some advice there - just remember that, even for 'common' side-effects, most people don't get them!

I think that, initially, it was identified that the newer NSAIDS - the COX-2 inhibitors, significantly reduced the risk of heart attacks etc. They then investigated the 'normal' NSAIDS and found that, with regular or high-dose use. they all increased the risk somewhat, some more than others. Diclofenac (Voltarol) was one of the highest risk ones, while ibuprofen was lower. I presume that Voltarol remain an over-the-counter sale because it is a lower dose, a small number, and has instructions to only be taken for, I think, three days.

If someone has existing cardiovascular problems, or has predisposing factors such as raised blood pressure, raised cholesterol, diabetes, smoking etc. this makes the risk proportionately higher, so doctors will try to avoid the higher-dose or more risky ones and try lower-risk ones first. (Mind you, my rheumatologist gave me Arcoxia, which is a higher-risk COX-2 inhibitor. It didn't work anyway, but she said I can ask my GP for meloxicam. Metacam works so brilliantly on my little pets that I want to try it!)

It is a matter of cost-benefit analysis - weighing up the risks against the increased pain-relief you gain from it as opposed to naproxen. If you can show your doctor that you have weighed this up and are prepared to take the increased risk, he or she may agree to prescribe them - if possible on an 'as required' dosage.

Good luck



There is much evidence that taking pain killers over a long period of time can actually increase pain problems.

All drugs have side effects. All people are different in their reactions to drugs for a vast variety of reasons. Drugs are given as a standard dose which may or may not be the right dosage in regard to balancing side effects to pain relief.

There is much myth as to what effective treatment for pain is. Drug trials are designed for the purpose of selling drugs and the reasons for an effective pain killer is based around these drugs supposed action.

Other reasons for pain such as muscle behaviour is often ignored by both doctor, drug trial coordinator and patient. Muscle behaviour and modification of muscle behaviour requires thinking work on the part of the GP, patient and consultant. No one wants to do the work on looking at the things which influence pain for better or worse, so drugs are prescribed instead.

I engage in Alexander Technique, Tai Chi, mindfulness, meditation rather than take pain killers. I also recieve treatment from a McTimony chiropractor on the NHS.


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