What Is Diclofenac/Misoprostol Used For?
If you have osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, your healthcare provider may recommend diclofenac/misoprostol. Specific uses of this drug include treating the symptoms of these types of arthritis, while also preventing stomach and intestinal ulcers in those who may have an increased risk for developing them. It may also be used off-label to treat symptoms of conditions other than rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.
Diclofenac/misoprostol (Arthrotec®) is a prescription medication approved to treat the symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis in people who have a high risk for stomach or intestinal ulcers from using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It contains two different medications:
The diclofenac component is an NSAID. It can help relieve symptoms of arthritis, such as pain and swelling. The medication will not cure arthritis, however, nor will it slow down the progression of the disease.
Like other NSAIDs, diclofenac can increase the risk for peptic ulcers (stomach or intestinal ulcers). Peptic ulcers occur when acid in the digestive tract eats away at the lining of the small intestine or stomach, causing a sore or lesion. The regular use of NSAIDs, including diclofenac, can irritate and weaken the lining of the small intestine or stomach, allowing acid to reach the wall of the stomach or intestines.
If an ulcer occurs in the upper part of the intestines, it is called a duodenal ulcer. Ulcers that occur in the stomach are called gastric ulcers. Gastric and duodenal ulcers can lead to serious complications, including internal bleeding.
Misoprostol, the other component, is a prostaglandin. It helps reduce the risk of getting an ulcer from NSAID use. Because diclofenac/misoprostol contains this particular ingredient, it may be a good choice for people who have a higher-than-normal risk for gastric and duodenal ulcers and complications from them. This includes people who:
- Have had a peptic ulcer, or stomach or intestinal bleeding in the past
- Will be using NSAIDs for an extended period of time
- Use alcohol
- Are older in age
- Have poor general health
- Use other medicines that increase the risk for ulcers or bleeding.