10 Best Arthritis Creams

Old woman applying hand arthritis cream at home.

In my years as a nurse, I’ve treated hundreds of patients suffering from inflammation and pain caused by arthritis—I’ve even started experiencing arthritis myself! Since many patients want to limit the amount of pills they take, I was always searching for the best arthritis cream to combat aches and pains. If this painful condition is impacting your life, consider treating the symptoms with a topical cream for arthritis.

Featured Products

Pain Relief Gel by Biofreeze
Pain Relief Gel by Biofreeze

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Biofreeze

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Pain Relief Concentrate by Penetrex
Pain Relief Concentrate by Penetrex

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Penetrex

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1. Pain Relief Gel by Biofreeze

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This gel for arthritis pain relief is the number one clinically-used product in its category, recommended by many therapists, chiropractors, podiatrists, and trainers. It is easy to apply and penetrates deep for providing fast-acting and long-lasting relief from aches and pains. The gel is free of NSAIDs, parabens, and propylene glycol, offering an all-natural application for daily use.

Pros:
  • Quickly relieves arthritis pain
  • Enhances exercise performance
  • Can be combined with other products for maximum effectiveness
Cons:
  • Not as effective for the most severe pain

2. Pain Relief Concentrate by Penetrex

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This topical cream for arthritis comprises a mixture of arnica, MSM (a dietary supplement form of sulfur), vitamin B6, and boswellia serrata to relieve pain and fight inflammation. Simply massage the cream into your skin until it is absorbed. Unlike other topical creams, there’s no burning or cooling sensation—only relief.

Pros:
  • No temperature sensation—skin does not get hot or cold
  • Lessens pain within minutes of application
  • Cream goes on cleanly—no grease or stickiness
Cons:
  • May not be strong enough for severe injuries

3. All-Natural Pain Relief Roll-on by Outback Pain Relief

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This all-natural pain relief roller has only four ingredients—tea tree oil, vanilla, blue mallee eucalyptus, and olive oil. It combats inflammation and restores range of motion and sleep quality, all without a burning or cooling sensation. Deep-penetrating anti-inflammatory oils treat the root cause of your pain, not just the symptoms.

Pros:
  • Short-lasting vanilla and eucalyptus smell
  • No harsh chemicals—all-natural relief
  • Soothes and relaxes muscles
Cons:
  • Takes a few uses before noticeable improvement and relief

4. Arnicare Cream by Boiron

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Unlike other products, this cream is not sticky or greasy, relieving your pain without making a mess. The cream is unscented and free of any parabens. It uses arnica montana, or mountain daisy, to relieve pain naturally, without risking overdose or conflicting with other medications. Massage this cream into your skin regularly to soothe pain.

Pros:
  • No odor or medicinal scent
  • Rubs on easily—no mess!
  • Won’t interact with other medicines
Cons:
  • May cause a “prickly” sensation on sensitive skin

5. Pain Relief Cream by Dr. Pat's Ultra Freeze

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Cold therapy is an effective way to relieve arthritis pain. This cream utilizes menthol and other ingredients to provide a fast-acting and long-lasting soothing sensation. The intensity of the cold increases over ten minutes and lasts for about a half hour. The gel absorbs into your skin quickly to help manage your pain.

Pros:
  • As cold as an ice pack
  • Comes in a 16 oz tub—eight times more than most other creams
  • Gel is non-greasy
Cons:
  • Has a menthol scent

6. Pain Relief Cream by LivRelief

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This cream’s transdermal delivery system penetrates deep into skin to treat the source of your pain. Natural anti-inflammatory ingredients and antioxidants give long-lasting relief and control the swelling and redness caused by arthritis. There is no cooling or warming sensation, and none of the ingredients have scents.

Pros:
  • Works immediately to treat pain
  • One daily application provides all-day relief
  • Leaves no residue after application
Cons:
  • Costly for the amount of cream

7. Analgesic Cream by Blue Emu

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Emu oil contains a fatty acid that enhances its ability to deeply penetrate your skin. This cream uses a special formula with emu oil to relieve your arthritis pain. The cream is odorless and non-greasy and even moisturizes your skin—without causing irritation.

Pros:
  • Works great on dry skin
  • Quickly reduces pain and inflammation
  • Provides continual relief
Cons:
  • Blue dye can stain fabric

8. Pain Relief Therapy Cream by Topricin

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This safe and gentle cream combats pain and swelling caused by arthritis. Because the cream is homeopathic, it’s safe for individuals of all ages, and there’s no risk of a reaction with other medicines or treatments.

Pros:
  • Relieves minor pains quickly
  • Safe to use for children and seniors
Cons:
  • May not be as effective for severe pain

9. Pain Relief Cream by Living Well Nutraceuticals

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MSM and CMO are the two natural and non-toxic ingredients used in this topical analgesic cream. Combined, they penetrate and relieve discomfort within minutes of application by blocking the pain and lessening the inflammation of arthritis.

Pros:
  • 100% all-natural—no toxic chemicals
  • Quickly absorbs into skin
  • Relieves pain at the source
Cons:
  • Slight minty smell

10. Arthritis Pain Relief Cream by Australian Dream

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This cream for arthritis relief uses histamine dihydrochloride to increase blood flow. This chemical compound relieves pain naturally, without causing any burning sensation. The cream does not leave a greasy mess or lingering odor, making it perfect for daily use.

Pros:
  • Relieves pain immediately
  • Aids sleep without nagging pain
  • 100% money-back guarantee
Cons:
  • May not work as well for excessive pain

How Cream for Arthritis Pain Works

Pain creams for arthritis include analgesic ingredients which serve as painkillers. These helpful chemicals work their magic by penetrating the skin near a joint to deliver fast relief. There are three main types of analgesic ingredients in arthritis cream.

  • Capsaicin

Capsaicin is the same ingredient found in chili peppers, and is effective in treating the pain caused by arthritis. You can always tell when a cream contains capsaicin, as it comes with a distinctive burning sensation on the skin. Creams with this analgesic work best when used over a few weeks, as capsaicin blocks your pain receptors over time.

  • Salicylates

Salicylates are the same ingredients found in aspirin and are great at soothing arthritis pain and reducing inflammation in the joints. Arthritis creams that use salicylates are most effective when applied over joints that are near the surface. But be careful: Do not take creams that include salicylates if you are allergic to aspirin or if you take blood thinners.

  • Counterirritants

Topical creams that use counterirritants, such as menthol, work by tricking your mind and distracting you from the pain caused by arthritis. Counterirritants produce a cooling or burning sensation, which provides immediate soothing relief. However, keep in mind that the effects don’t last very long.

Pain Management Alternatives

Although pain relief cream works well to combat arthritis symptoms, my patients have gained the most relief from a well-rounded approach to managing their symptoms. Here are a few techniques I recommend for relieving pain and reducing the impact of arthritis on your life.

  • Contrast Therapy

Contrast therapy, or hot and cold therapy, relieves pain and swelling caused by arthritis. Cold therapy tightens blood vessels, reduces inflammation, and blocks pain receptors while heat encourages blood circulation.

  • Exercise

It may be tough to get up and move when your joints are aching, however healthy exercise is one of the best long-term treatments for arthritis pain. To make exercise easier and safer, opt for low-impact activities such as yoga, swimming, Tai Chi, or Pilates.

Besides pain, arthritis can cause weakness, especially in the hands. Implementing a grip strengthening program is a great way to combat this, and no grip strengthener is more fun to use than therapy putty.

  • Compression Gloves

Consider using compression gloves in addition to arthritis cream to reduce swelling and stiffness in your hands and fingers. In time, compression gloves can even build strength—especially when used in conjunction with exercise.

Use the Best Cream for Arthritis for Pain Relief

The best topical cream for arthritis will alleviate your pain and provide soothing relief. Considering the various types of arthritis creams available, you’re sure to find a cream that relieves pain using ingredients you’re comfortable with.

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