10 Best Arthritis Creams Fully Tested & Reviewed

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If you’re plagued by chronic arthritis it can be tough to get through certain tasks without feeling frustrated about the pain. While a topical cream won’t be able to cure the condition, it can certainly help you to get some relief, at least temporarily. We have put together a list of the 10 best arthritis creams to help make your shopping a little easier and to help you get the pain relief you deserve.

Boiron Arnica Cream
  • Boiron Arnica Cream
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Non-greasy
  • Price: See Here
Topricin Pain Relief
  • Topricin Pain Relief
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Dries Quickly
  • Price: See Here
T-Relief
  • T-Relief
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Odorless
  • Price: See Here

 

10 Best Arthritis Creams

 

1. Boiron Arnica Cream

This Boiron Arnica Cream is suitable not just for relieving joint pain and stiffness but also muscle pain, as well. It can reduce swelling and clear up the appearance of bruised skin. It's a great option for those with easily irritated skin. It comes in a small tube of 2.5 oz.
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Consistency & Ingredients

This cream formulation features, as its main ingredient, Arnica montana, which is a useful natural pain relief substance. The Boiron cream does not stain clothes nor does it leave a greasy residue on the skin. Reviewers liked the thick consistency of the cream and that it was easy to apply without making a mess. Users also appreciated the inclusion of Arnica, which they found very effective. They also liked that the active ingredients were natural. Some users noted that they had issues with the cream because of its high Arnica content. Those with blood pressure issues may want to avoid this type of topical pain treatment since Arnica may cause blood pressure to spike.

Efficacy & Application

Your best bet with this Boiron Arnica cream is to apply it quickly as soon as you notice the pain. Reviewers found the cream particularly effective for bruising, even heavy bruising that was the result of surgery. For the best results, the Boiron cream should be re-applied to the affected area on a regular basis.

Odor

This formulation does not have a fragrance. Users particularly liked the fact that the Boiron cream was odorless. Unlike other products of this nature, the cream is indeed unscented.

Shelf Life

The tube the cream comes in is rather small, especially for using it on a regular basis. Some reviewers noted that the product was fairly expensive considering its size. The cream is available in other formats, though.
Pros
  • Effective 
  • Non-greasy
  • Does not stain
  • Odorless
  • Natural ingredients 
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Arnica ingredient may not be suitable for those with high blood pressure

2. Topricin Pain Relief

This cream comes in three size formats including 2 oz, 8 oz, and 32 oz containers. The topical pain treatment is an excellent alternative to potentially addictive pain pills. It's suitable for those with arthritis as well as those with other types of joint and muscle pain. Some even use it to treat headache pain!
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Consistency & Ingredients

This cream is composed of 11 ingredients and does not require a prescription. The ingredients are said by the company to be 'natural biomedicines.' Reviewers liked the thick creamy consistency of Topricin especially that it quickly dried on the skin. It's quickly absorbed and not at all messy. Although directions encourage repeated use, some users pointed out that some of the ingredients are not suitable for use by certain patients (e.g., Kidney patients). One of the main active ingredients is Arnica. Reviewers liked that the cream did not use heat to mask or dull pain.

Efficacy & Application

Topricin works well if used on a regular basis. Reviewers found the cream effective in reducing pain and said that massaging it into the skin helped enhance its efficacy. Only a small amount of the cream is required to massage into the skin for pain relief.

Odor

The pain relief cream doesn't have any distinct odor, which reviewers cited as a bonus. It's tough to find pain relief or arthritis creams that don't have a strong medicinal smell. Thankfully, Topricin is fragrance-free.

Shelf Life

Topricin has a shelf life of about four years or so. When applying the cream, only a small amount needs to be used to ensure effectiveness. Application of the cream should be frequent to ensure pain relief, but any of the available formats should last a while.
Pros
  • No smell
  • Dries quickly
  • Absorbed quickly
  • Only need a dime sized amount 
Cons
  • Ingredients not well-indicated according to reviewers 

3. T-Relief

A cream designed uniquely for arthritic patients and others with joint pain. Contains a strong concentration of its active ingredient and is Organic. The company also offers a guarantee. Try the cream and if you're not satisfied, even after using the entire tube, send it back!
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Consistency & Ingredients

Features a lot of Arnica compared to other pain relief creams. Also includes 12 additional ingredients that help treat aches and pains. Also contains shea butter so the cream moisturizers as it works to relieve inflammation and pain. Note that this product contains Arnica, which can be contraindicative with blood pressure medications. It may also cause blood pressure to spike for some users.

Efficacy & Application

Reviewers found the cream worked effectively and helped them reduce their OTC painkiller consumption. Some were less convinced of the helpful effects, saying that they felt no difference after applying the cream. For those that found the cream effective, the product seemed to work quickly, within minutes.

Odor

Hurray! No odor! Another cream on this list without a strong medicinal smell when applied to the skin. No one wants to smell like they've been living in their medicine cabinet. Reviewers appreciated the odorless formula.

Shelf Life

The cream does not have a very long shelf life, so it's best used by someone who requires frequent application.
Pros
  • Inexpensive 
  • Organic formula
  • Works well
  • Works quickly
  • Odorless 
Cons
  • Short shelf life
  • Arnica ingredient may not be suitable for all users

4. Australian Dream

Another pain relief cream with an empty container guarantee. Use it all up and find it doesn't work right? The company will refund you. This Australian Dream cream features a different active ingredient than the other options on this list so far. Helps by improving blood flow in the affected area.
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Consistency & Ingredients

Includes different ingredients than other creams on this list. Does not use heat to mask pain, instead includes histamine dihydrochloride to promote blood flow to the area where applied so that the body can naturally heal pain on its own. The cream also includes emu oil among other inactive ingredients. The cream isn't greasy, and reviewers liked the thick cream consistency. Users also liked that it was absorbed quickly by the skin. The cream goes on smoothly and doesn't leave any kind of nasty residue on the skin.

Efficacy & Application

The majority of reviewers found the cream to work wonders for arthritis pain. Reviewers liked that it targeted joint pain fast. A few reviewers didn't feel a measurable difference when applying the cream to affected areas, however.

Odor

Reviewers particularly appreciated the odorless formula of the Australian Dream cream.

Shelf Life

You just need a dab to apply to the skin for the Australian Dream cream to work as indicated. Using a small amount is effective and ensures you'll have enough cream to last a little while.
Pros
  • Effective pain relief
  • No odor
  • Greaseless application
  • Unique active ingredients for pain relief 
  • Just need a small amount for it to work
Cons
  • Didn't relieve pain for everyone

5. MaxRelief

This MaxRelief cream comes in a small jar with plenty of Arnica to prevent and relieve joint pain due to arthritis. The brightly colored jar is easy to spot in your purse or backpack when the pain starts to cloud your mind. Includes natural ingredients that get to work right at the source without the help of cooling or warming sensations that might mask pain instead of treating it.
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Consistency & Ingredients

Its active ingredients include Arnica, Emu Oil, and Eucalyptus. Ingredients are natural. Camphor is also included as an active ingredient but there's no stinky menthol in this cream. Some users found this cream a bit too tacky for their liking. Its stickiness, compared to other creams, made it tough to apply correctly and was hard to use without feeling messy or gross. Others found that once applied to the skin the cream felt very nice. The majority of users found the cream particularly greasy, though. Feels a lot like a body lotion than other pain creams, which some liked, while others would have preferred a quicker drying substance.

Efficacy & Application

The formula provides fast-acting pain relief immediately. The cream also lasts for several hours. Meant to be rubbed gently into the skin. Reviewers found the cream useful and liked it better than other options on the market.

Odor

Some users found the cream was not smelly at all and had no odor, while others found the smell to be pungent.

Shelf Life

Some reviewers noted that the pain relief provided by MaxRelief cream was not very long-lasting. The small package may not last very long for someone with a chronic pain condition like arthritis.
Pros
  • Effective for most users
  • Fast acting
  • Good active ingredients 
Cons
  • Greasy and sticky
  • Small container 

6. Capzasin-HP

This arthritis cream contains an ingredient from a hot pepper to help relieve pain. Don't worry. It shouldn't burn your skin unless you have an allergy. If you're not sure or have sensitive skin, test the cream on a tiny patch of skin to ensure you won't break out in hives or irritate a larger area of skin.
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Consistency & Ingredients

Capzasin cream contains 0.1% of its primary active ingredient 'Capsaicin,' which is sourced from chili peppers. Ever wondered why it's a bad idea to touch your eyes after dicing up some hot chilies? It's because of Capsaicin. Keep it away from your face until after you wash your hands to avoid painful burning of your eyes. If you are using the cream on your hands because that's where the pain is located, don't touch your face until the cream is completely absorbed.

Efficacy & Application

Capsaicin is an excellent active ingredient because it really works to help reduce pain caused by arthritis. You'll see the best results with this cream if you put it on regularly. Provides a warm sensation to the skin. Some liked it, while others found it uncomfortable or even unbearable. If you're sensitive to this type of product, it may be best to try a different pain relief cream.

Odor

This cream doesn't have a strong odor, so it's easy to apply and head off to wherever you're going. No need to wait until a strong medicinal smell subsides. Reviewers appreciated the odorless formula.

Shelf Life

Reviewers found the pain relief from this cream was long-lasting and re-application of the cream was only necessary every few hours or even more sporadically.
Pros
  • Very effective for arthritis pain
  • Odorless
  • Easy to apply
  • Long-lasting 
Cons
  • Some may be sensitive to the active ingredient 

7. The Feel Good Lab Relief

With a company name like 'The Feel Good Lab,' you'd expect some great results, and that's what you'll get with this Arnica infused pain relief cream. It comes in various sizes including 1.2 oz, 3.4 oz, and 6.8 oz. A blend of ingredients works to reduce joint pain and muscle aches. Also included are skin softening agents, so repeated use doesn't dry up your skin. Free of harmful chemicals and GMOs, this cream provides natural pain relief where it's most needed.
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Consistency & Ingredients

Contains a blend of 30 ingredients including the ever popular pain reliever Arnica as well as Turmeric, which is a known natural anti-inflammatory. Also includes coconut oil to moisturize the skin and a variety of other natural ingredients that you'll instantly recognize. Users with sensitive skin found this cream to be an excellent choice. Some reviewers did find the cream a bit sticky, but otherwise a great pain reliever. Also important to note is that the cream is FDA approved. As always, check the ingredient list to make sure you are not allergic to any of the components used in the formulation.

Efficacy & Application

Most reviewers were incredibly impressed with this cream and found it to work exceptionally well. Users also liked the way it left their skin feeling soft and smooth. Reviewers liked that the cream dried quickly, too.

Odor

This cream does contain menthol, so there's a faint scent, but it dissipates quickly upon application. Reviewers liked the understated fragrance profile of the cream and liked that it did not contain any perfumes or dyes.

Shelf Life

Users liked that the tube of the cream was well-sized for frequent use. You can buy it in different sizes, too. The small size is perfect for travel. Pain relief was also long-lasting.
Pros
  • Attractive packaging
  • Includes all-natural ingredients
  • Very faint smell
  • Moisturizes the skin
  • Dries quickly
Cons
  • Some found the cream a bit sticky

8. Joint Flex

An arthritis cream that contains natural ingredients including skin moisturizers. No need to go to the doctor for a prescription to get your hands on this pain relief cream.
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Consistency & Ingredients

The cream includes Glucosamine to help with joint pain and irritation. Doesn't leave a sticky film on the skin and helps to moisturize the affected area. Also includes Camphor as its main active ingredient. Reviewers were impressed by the feel of the cream on the skin. It's more of a lotion, and it's easy to apply to the skin.

Efficacy & Application

A unique formulation ensures that this cream dries quickly and is absorbed post-application quite rapidly. Most reviewers found that the cream worked quite well for arthritis pain.

Odor

The company claims this cream doesn't have a strong smell and once applied leaves no odor. Reviews were all over the map when it came to fragrance. Some users found the menthol-like scent to go away quickly while other found it was overpowering.

Shelf Life

If used daily for chronic pain, this pain relieving cream should last a couple of months.
Pros
  • Moisturizes the skin
  • Dries quickly 
  • Long-lasting
  • Works well for arthritis pain
Cons
  • Strong smell, say some reviewers 

9. Castiva with Capsaicin

Here's our second pick that contains Capsaicin. If you like a bit of heat when it comes to pain, this is an excellent choice for pain relief. Comes in a 4 oz tube and works not only for arthritis pain but for muscle aches, as well.
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Consistency & Ingredients

This cream is made with castor oil, which allows the active ingredient of Capsaicin to get deep into the skin a lot quicker than without it. Don't use this if you're sensitive to heat or the included elements.

Efficacy & Application

Reviewers found the Castiva cream to work very well. They found the castor oil base did indeed encourage faster absorption and pain relief. Some users noted that washing hands after an application was critical in order to avoid touching the eyes with the Capsaicin infused substance.

Odor

Reviewers noted the cream did have an odor, but it was not unpleasant. Users who commented on the smell were pleasantly surprised by it. They said it was mild and not at all overpowering.

Shelf Life

Reviewers seemed to have different experiences when it came to the length of time that pain relief lasted. Some found the cream's pain reducing powers lasted for hours and hours while others were less impressed with its ability to take away the pain for long periods of time.
Pros
  • Fast acting
  • Absorbs very quickly
  • Faint smell
  • Works well
Cons
  • Some may be sensitive to the Capsaicin 

10. Creation Farm Balm of Gilead Herbal Salve

An herbal balm that comes in a lovely 4 oz jar. This herbal concoction contains various natural ingredients that help with arthritis pain.
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Consistency & Ingredients

Some of the ingredients in this balm include Eucalyptus, Juniper, and St. Johns Wort. Reviewers said that the balm felt a lot like Vaseline, which means it's quite messy. It's tough to wash off, as well.

Efficacy & Application

The balm works well to reduce inflammation and works as a rub for times when the flu or a cold hits. The bulk of users found the balm very efficient when it came to relieving pain from arthritis.

Odor

Most reviewers found the smell to be nice and pleasant. Natural ingredients are included to bring users a mildly scented balm.

Shelf Life

Lasts relatively long time since a little goes a long way. The fairly large jar should last a fair amount of time for most.
Pros
  • Natural ingredients
  • Helps reduce inflammation and pain
  • Pleasant smell
  • Long-lasting 
Cons
  • A little messy to use 

 

Evaluation Criteria Explained

How did we evaluate our top ten picks for arthritis creams? We looked at what users had to say about the consistency & ingredients of the creams, how well they worked, how easy they were to apply, whether they had a nasty smell or not, and how long a jar or tube of such cream lasted most people.

Consistency & Ingredients 

We mostly chose creams that had a pleasant consistency that users didn’t find greasy when applied to the skin. A thicker consistency makes it easier to apply this type of medication but a thicker cream can sometimes be gooey or sticky after application. Most of our picks are also substances that won’t stain clothes and feature hydrating ingredients that won’t dry out the skin. When selecting our choices based on ingredients, we looked for products that included ingredients that were pronounceable and recognizable. Many of our picks include creams that contain natural ingredients, as well. Often, the creams included on this list have very few ingredients so the consumer can easily recognize effective active ingredients.

Efficacy & Application 

To determine efficacy, we examined hundreds of reviews for each product listed to see whether consumers were happy with the pain relief results of the cream in question. We also looked at how each cream was meant to be applied to the skin and how easy users felt it was to do so.

Odor 

This is the main concern for many people using any type of pain relief cream. The medicinal ingredients often make this type of cream smell really strong. You end up leaving the house smelling like menthol or some other medicinal substance. While many of the creams feature a scent that fades away once applied, others have a pungent odor. For some, it’s not a deal breaker, as long as the cream is effective, while others really hate a strong smell. Many of the creams featured on this list have an odorless formulation so you can slather on the pain relief treatment and leave your house not having to worry about whether you stink.

Shelf Life 

Looking at reviews, container sizes, and suggested expiration dates, we evaluated the shelf life of the substances on this list. Looking at shelf life is a good indicator of value. A cream that requires just a small dollop to provide effective relief will last a fair amount of time on the shelf.

Other Considerations

What else should you consider when browsing arthritis creams available on the market?

Arthritis Triggers

While creams may provide temporary pain relief, you can also limit triggers to prevent pain from occurring on a regular basis. Arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation of the joints. By preventing triggers that cause inflammation you can reduce your risk of a flare-up.  What should you avoid if you suffer from arthritis?

  • Smoking or cigarette smoke
  • Sitting around
  • High-impact activities
  • High-stress levels
  • Obesity

Other Helpful Treatments 

Sure, using an arthritis pain relief cream can help with painful joint inflammation, but if you combine natural treatment options you’ll get the best results. Of course, talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing pain that impacts your life to see if they can help you with a treatment plan. In addition to using topical pain relievers consider also doing the following:

  • Lose weight
  • Get moving
  • Look into acupuncture
  • See a physical therapist

FAQ

Q. Why do many pain relief creams contain menthol or camphor?

A. The idea is for these substances to, in effect, mask the pain you’re feeling by providing a cool or hot sensation. Just because creams contain these ingredients doesn’t mean they’re just covering up your pain with other sensations, though. Many creams with menthol or camphor also contain other active ingredients that help provide relief.

Q. Do I need a prescription to use any of these creams?

A. No. These creams are over the counter products that do not require a prescription.

Q. Should I be worried about the safety of using these types of topical pain relievers?

A. In general, most users won’t experience side effects with these types of creams. However, if you have allergies to anything, check the label for the cream’s ingredients before using it. Some people may be sensitive to substances containing Capsaicin. Users taking blood pressure medication or those who are on blood thinners should speak with their medical health practitioner before using a topical pain relief cream for arthritis. Bottom line, if you have any kind of medical condition, it’s wise to check with your doctor before using a topical pain relief treatment.

Q. I’m allergic to aspirin, can I use topical pain relievers?

A. Check the ingredients of creams carefully. Some creams contain NSAIDs like aspirin. You can ask your pharmacist for guidance or speak to your doctor to ensure a cream is safe to use.

Q. Will these creams cure my arthritis?

A. Unfortunately, no. These creams are intended to be used as a temporary relief solution. Users shouldn’t expect these to work as a cure for arthritis pain.

Q. Besides allergic reactions or medication interactions, are there any side effects to look out for with arthritis creams?

A. Some users may experience irritation when the skin is exposed to certain ingredients. If you’re worried about having a reaction, test a very small patch of your skin before applying the cream to liberally. Products with Capsaicin are generally safe to use, but users should be careful not to make contact with the eyes.

Sources

  1. Jennifer Warner & Farrokh Sohrabi, MD, 7 Joint Pain Triggers That Can Make RA Worse, Online Health Website, Oct 23, 2017
  2. Anne Harding, 13 Natural Remedies for Arthritis, Online Magazine Website, Dec 01, 2010
  3. Mayo Clinic Staff, Arthritis pain: Treatments absorbed through your skin, Health Website, Jun 19, 2016
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