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Best Pain Relief Cream for Arthritis: Top 10 Reviews

Arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis, is a degenerative disease that affects the joints. Over time, joint pain affects fingers, knees and hips and other areas which causes chronic pain and discomfort. This can reduce one's quality of life by limiting the amount of activity and mobility one can engage in. If you are someone who suffers or knows someone who suffers from arthritis, the struggle to find treatments such as anti-inflammatory drugs, oral medication, topical creams and topical gels that produce positive results is never ending. If you look at the options which are available on the market, the number of variants can send your head spinning. The most valuable action to take, before venturing into a local Walgreens or CVS Pharmacy, is to ask your doctor for a recommendation. Ask a physician who knows your medical history about which option is the most efficient to increase your quality of life.

Several options may be given, and several lifestyle changes may be suggested to in order to improve the dexterity of your joints and to reduce the amount of discomfort you experience. There are a variety of prescription medications that may be suggested, most of which are in pill or droplet form. These treatments work from inside the body and can improve the dexterity of joints over time. However, there are also over-the-counter treatments available, which can be less invasive and useful for easing the pain.

Topical Pain Relief

Sometimes, arthritis can make an unwelcome appearance from nowhere, especially due to seasonal change or overuse of the joints. When it does rear it's ugly head, a good quality arthritis cream can be used to bring immediate pain relief. Topical pain relievers are a wonderful option for to ease the pain.

Painkillers which are sprayed or rubbed onto the skin, are called analgesics. These are used for the treatment of muscles, joints, and flexors which cause pain and require medication to soothe. The skin, on top of aching muscles and joints, absorbs the analgesic treatment, providing immediate pain relief.

What’s in It?

There are many over-the-counter topical pain relief products, and most of them have a similar list of ingredients. However, the balance of elements will make a big difference in any one product's effectiveness. Most products designed for topical pain relief contain a mixture of menthol, methyl salicylate, camphor, and capsaicin.

  • Counterirritants

Menthol, methyl salicylate, and camphorare counterirritants. This means that the substance creates a heating sensation or cooling sensation, which alleviates pain by distraction. Counterirritants have also been said to draw blood towards the area where it has been applied, thereby healing bruises and reducing inflammation more expediently. However, there is no way to substantiate this. That being said, many users report significant relief in the treatments of hot and cold counterirritants.

  • Salicylates

Aspirin contains the same ingredient as many common topical arthritis creams, which is salicylates. It is ideal for joints which are close to the skin, such as hands and feet. The pain-relieving effects of salicylates are noticeable, due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Products with a higher amount of salicylates will be stronger in relieving joint and muscle pain, than products which contain a higher amount of counterirritants, such as menthol or methyl salicylate.

  • Capsaicin

Surprisingly, the thing that makes hot peppers so spicy is also great for pain relief. Capsaicin is one of the most effective ingredients to look for in topical arthritis cream, due to its long-term, prolonged benefits. Over the course of many treatments, capsaicin works more and more effectively and the burning sensation eases.

Prescription Options

Topical pain treatments for arthritis are also available as a prescription. If you are someone who experiences the benefits pain relief that topical treatments bring, it may be worth it to ask your doctor if there are any stronger products on the market, available by prescription. Voltaren and Solaraze are just two of the topical pain relievers that have been approved by the FDA in the United States.

Best OTC Topical Arthritis Pain Reliever Creams

For those who don't need a high dosage of pain relief for use on a daily basis, OTC options are vast. Compiled below is a list of OTC Arthritis Cream Pain Relievers, which are proven to be effective. These products are found easily at drugstores or online for delivery.

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For use in the relief of sore muscles, aching bones, and general pain by reducing inflammation. This product contains salicylates, camphor, and menthol, giving it both warming and cooling effects. Found at most Walgreens, CVS stores, and general drug stores.


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This product is great for those who are sensitive to strong aromas. The vanishing quality of this product means that the menthol smell will dissipate quickly. The active ingredients in the Icy Hot Vanishing Gel are menthol and salicylates. These create an initial sensation of cold, followed by a sensation of heat.


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For those who do not want any scent at all in their treatment, this product is odor-free. The Aspercreme Topical Analgesic Cream contains no counterirritants. The only active ingredient is salicylates, making it a great option for those who have extra-sensitive skin.


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This product is unique, due to the main active ingredient being arnica. Arnica is used in homeopathy and is very effective in treating sore muscles and joints. The effects are felt almost immediately and last a long time. It also works to heal joints and muscles which are painted by arthritis. This is recommended for those looking for a non-toxic OTC, and long-term relief option.


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An odorless, mild and tempered pain relief option, the Myoflex cream is almost like a hand lotion. It’s rich and creamy feel soaks into the skin without prolonged rubbing, due to a higher concentration of non-active ingredients. It's great for those with sensitive skin and a preference towards non-intrusive scents.


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As the name might suggest, the main active ingredient is capsaicin. This cream produces a prolonged and deep, heating sensation on the spot in which it is applied. Some skin is too sensitive for prolonged treatment with high levels of capsaicin. Therefore, if you find it bothering your skin, discontinue use and seek a milder solution.


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This product has a high amount of salicylates, making it the best for those with debilitating pain. It is scented and requires more rubbing to soak into the skin compared to some of the other products listed. This is due to its thick consistency.


australian dream arthritis pain relief cream image

This is a good product for sensitive skin and those who do not like strong odors. This product is odorless, grease-free and does not produce a burning sensation. The active ingredient is salicylates. However, is not as strong as some others listed.


A great option for a natural pain reliever. The main ingredient in Zostrix is capsaicin. However, it does not produce an intense burning sensation. Instead, this product has been tested and proven to provide immediate and lasting relief.


Joint Flex is a standard pain relief cream, with the added ingredients of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate for improving skin irritation. The compound is stainless, grease-free and claims to leave nomess. This is a good arthritis cream for moderate to acute pain relief.


Before using any OTC pain relief cream, talk to your doctor about an option that makes sense for you. Always use caution when testing out new medications and contact a professional if you experience symptoms or side effects from the OTC topical treatment. There are many great options to improve your quality of life and longevity. If you are someone with arthritis, improve your life by relieving the pain with a topical pain relief cream.

Please feel free to leave comments and questions, and thanks for reading.

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