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Our editor tested a range of CBD topicals and chose these as the best CBD creams for pain. Find out why Aspen Green, CBDfx, and Extract Labs top the list.

Healthline has sole editorial control over this article. Potential uses for the products listed here are not health claims made by the manufacturers. The information in this article is intended to be general in nature. It’s not intended to be a substitute for medical advice from a healthcare professional. Healthline encourages you to make any treatment decisions with your healthcare professional.

If you’re looking for a cannabidiol (CBD) product to soothe your aches and pains, a topical CBD — such as a CBD cream — may be particularly useful.

But how can you tell which CBD creams are the real deal?

Read on for my experience testing all the creams hands-on. I provide honest feedback on what worked for me — and what didn’t!

ProductTypePotencyBest for
Aspen Green Relief Cooling Creamfull-spectrum1,000 milligrams (mg)high potency
CBDfx Muscle and Joint Cream, Cooling Formulabroad-spectrum1,000 mg or 3,000 mginflammation
Extract Labs CBD Muscle Creamfull-spectrum2,000 mgacute pain refleif
Cornbread Hemp CBD Lotion, Menthol Formulafull-spectrum500 mgpleasing scent
PlusCBD Pain Relief Muscle Creamfull-spectrum500 mgfragrance-free
Soul CBD Rapid Relief Creamisolate1,500 mgathletes
Medterra Rapid Recovery CBD Creamisolate500 mgpure CBD (no THC)
FOCL Deep Relief Cooling Creambroad-spectrum1,000 or 2,000 mgbroad-spectrum formula
Sunmed Topical CBD Cream, Maximum Strengthfull-spectrum2,000 mgcooling

We selected these CBD creams and CBD lotions based on criteria we think are good indicators of safety, quality, and transparency.

Our editor also personally tested the products and provided feedback on the level of pain relief she felt.

As a part of our vetting process, we consider:

  • the product’s composition, ingredients, and overall quality
  • any third-party certifications
  • the company’s reputation and business practices
  • any lab test results
  • marketing claims

Read more about how we vet products and brands and how we test CBD products.

I was diagnosed with sciatica in January 2022 and went to physical therapy until I was deemed OK to return to the gym. After I was feeling better, I switched my workout style from lifting (think heavy kettlebells, pushing a sled, and more) to swimming laps (my one true fitness love), yoga, and walking.

I still have sciatica flare-ups from time to time, and pain relief CBD creams have been life-saving when my physical therapy exercises aren’t quite doing the trick. CBD cream is nice to have when my pain is unpredictable. All the creams I tried are easy to transport and pack in a backpack, gym bag, or suitcase.

Just knowing that I have my trusty CBD cream in my bag helps me push myself on hikes, bike rides, and long walks.

Research into CBD’s pain-relieving abilities is still in the early stages. However, so far, there’s some evidence that topical CBD products, like creams, may help with a variety of pain sensations, including:

  • Arthritis-related pain: A 2016 animal study in rats found that topical CBD may help with arthritis-related pain and swelling. More recently, an anonymous, questionnaire-based 2022 study suggests that CBD use is linked with a perceived decrease in arthritis symptoms. Additionally, a 2023 study in mice suggests that cannabinoids like CBD and cannabichromene may help reduce inflammation, a common arthritis symptom.
  • Nerve pain: A small 2020 study looked at the effects of topical CBD oil on pain. Many people in the study, all with nerve damage, reported having reduced pain levels. They described feeling a dip in sharp, intense, and cold and itchy pain sensations.
  • Jaw pain: A small 2019 study looked into how topical CBD may provide relief from a specific kind of facial pain that mainly affects the jaw. The study found that people who applied topical CBD about two times a day experienced a lot less pain after 2 weeks.

Another 2020 study found that some people in palliative care use THC or CBD regularly and that topical products, in particular, help reduce pain.


  • Helpful for targeting pain in specific areas: While edibles provide full-body effects, you can apply topicals like creams directly to trouble areas.
  • Works quickly: Because topicals don’t pass through your stomach, they don’t get broken down like edibles. This means they tend to work faster than gummies or capsules.
  • Additional ingredients may add pain relief: Many creams have added ingredients like menthol or arnica, which provide enhanced pain relief.
  • Improved skin health: CBD creams may help with pain and moisturize and hydrate the skin.


  • Less potent than ingestibles: You may feel the effects of topicals sooner than ingestibles, but most creams and lotions tend to be less potent.
  • Difficult to dose: Oils and ingestibles such as gummies or capsules are carefully formulated to ensure you’re getting a specific dose with each dropper or serving. However, when applying creams, it can be difficult to figure out exact dosing.
  • Potential for skin irritation: Anytime you put something on your skin, there’s potential for a reaction to occur.
  • May not be (entirely) effective: CBD cream may not be effective for some pain conditions because it is not absorbed into the bloodstream
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A 2017 research review showed that CBD is generally safe to use.

Most topicals are for external use only, so you should not ingest them unless the packaging says it’s safe to do so.

If you have any sores or open wounds, wait to apply CBD cream. Many products should not be used on broken skin.

While small amounts of low dose CBD products shouldn’t make you feel “high,” some people occasionally experience side effects like:

  • sleepiness
  • diarrhea
  • changes in weight or appetite

However, topicals are unlikely to absorb into your bloodstream and cause full-body effects.

Talk with your doctor or healthcare professional before using CBD since it can interact with certain medications.

Research is still ongoing, but some smaller studies and animal research suggest that CBD may reduce inflammation and help provide pain relief. Studies have specifically looked at CBD for arthritis, nerve, and jaw pain.

Some possible side effects of CBD are:

  • sleepiness
  • diarrhea
  • appetite changes
  • weight changes

Whenever you’re using a product that’s new to you, it’s important to check ingredients carefully to avoid any known allergens.

Never apply CBD to broken skin, and remember to perform a patch test before using it for the first time. This can determine if any ingredients in the topical will irritate your skin.

It depends on the person but generally between 15 and 30 minutes.

Yes. CBD oils meant to be taken orally can also be rubbed into the skin. Just make sure to read the ingredient list for any irritants before you apply oils directly to the skin.

Keep in mind that you can apply some CBD oils to the skin, but don’t ingest products meant specifically for the skin.

The jury is still out on whether CBD topicals offer definitive pain relief, but many people report having success with creams, lotions, and salves for all kinds of ailments.

For the best results possible, pick a potent, full-spectrum CBD cream from a reputable company that sources quality, organic ingredients.

Remember that the most reputable CBD brands are transparent about their products — including clear descriptions on their website about where products are grown and how they’re processed. Talk with your doctor or healthcare professional before trying CBD.

Is CBD legal? The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC legal at the federal level. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3% THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them illegal at the federal level. Some states have legalized CBD, so be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.