Best Pain Relieving Creams for Arthritis

Best Pain Relieving Creams for Arthritis

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  • Arthritis and pain relief

    Arthritis and pain relief

    The swollen joints that are a symptom of arthritis may cause significant pain and limit the ability to move. If you have arthritis, you want to have as many pain relief options as possible.

    Exercise relieves pain by stretching and relaxing sore muscles. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs reduce swelling.

    However, you can only exercise so much. And you should avoid taking more pain relievers than necessary. So as an alternative, there are many arthritis creams that can help when applied to a painful area.

    We pick these items based on the quality of the products, and list the pros and cons of each to help you determine which will work best for you. We partner with some of the companies that sell these products, which means Healthline may receive a portion of the revenues when you buy something using the links below.

  • How creams work

    How creams work

    Arthritis creams are effective, but they only provide temporary pain relief. The main types of arthritis pain relief creams include:

    • salicylates
    • counterirritants
    • capsaicin

    According to one review, creams containing salicylates have been shown to work moderately well in treating arthritis pain.

    Some brands of salicylate ointment contain other ingredients like menthol, eucalyptus oil, and cinnamon oil.

    These are counterirritants, which warm the skin and distract the brain from pain.

    Capsaicin, an element found in hot chili peppers, reduces pain by blocking the skin’s pain receptors.

  • Safe use

    Safe use

    Always follow package directions when applying an arthritis cream.

    Wash your hands before and after application, and never touch your eyes or mucus membranes when you have arthritis cream on your hands.

    Most arthritis creams suggest limiting use to four times a day. Stop using the cream if it causes any irritation.

    Ask your doctor if you should avoid salicylates if you’re sensitive or allergic to aspirin, or if you take prescription blood thinners.

  • Bengay for pain

    Bengay for pain

    Bengay arthritis cream has been used to relieve muscle and bone pain for generations. It contains salicylates, camphor, and menthol, and is available in a variety of strengths.

    Salicylate penetrates the affected area. Camphor and menthol have cooling and warming effects. 

  • Icy Hot vanishing gel

    Icy Hot vanishing gel

    Icy Hot contains menthol and salicylates. It provides an initial cooling sensation followed by the deeper, comforting feeling of heat.

    Icy Hot is recommended for occasional pain relief. It’s also a vanishing gel so the scent disappears quickly. This may be a good choice if you don’t like the smell of menthol.

  • Aspercreme odor-free topical analgesic cream

    Aspercreme odor-free topical analgesic cream

    People who don’t like the smell of arthritis creams may prefer Aspercreme. It works by sending salicylates through your skin to the source of the pain.

    It doesn’t contain counterirritants that cause cooling or warming sensations, so it’s a good choice if your skin is sensitive to those ingredients.

  • Myoflex odorless pain relieving cream

    Myoflex odorless pain relieving cream

    Myoflex may be a great pain relief option if you have arthritis and you don’t like the greasy feel of many creams.

    It’s an odorless cream containing salicylates that quickly absorbs into your skin. It provides pain relief without scent or a typical lotion-like feel.

  • Capzasin-HP arthritis cream

    Capzasin-HP arthritis cream

    The active ingredient in Capzasin-HP arthritis cream is capsaicin, an element of those hot chili peppers you either love to eat or can’t tolerate. People who enjoy eating peppers report a feeling of mild euphoria. That’s because capsaicin blocks pain receptors.

    The warming sensation in Capzasin-HP arthritis cream is much milder than the one you feel when you eat peppers. However, stop using it if you find it irritates your skin.

  • Sportscreme deep penetrating pain relieving rub

    Sportscreme deep penetrating pain relieving rub

    The active ingredient in Sportscreme is salicylates, which can help relieve aching joints and muscles.

    This cream is scented and has a thicker consistency than most. That means it takes a little more rubbing to apply it, which also provides a bit of pain relief with a minimassage.

  • Choices


    With so many arthritis pain relief creams and gels on the market, it can be difficult to know which is right for you. If you’re sensitive to aspirin, ask your doctor before using creams containing salicylates.

    If you notice skin sensitivity while using any topical products containing ingredients that produce warm or cool sensations and that contain ingredients like capsaicin or menthol, discontinue use.

    And finally, if you don’t like the scent of some arthritis pain relief creams or gels, you might consider unscented options.

    Continue experimenting until you’ve found the pain relief cream that’s right for you.