12 Best Topical Creams for Pain and Inflammation 2024

Chronic joint pain affects almost one-quarter of people worldwide. Common joints affected include the knees, hands, elbows, shoulders, back and elsewhere. In most cases, this is caused by the most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis.

The issues surrounding the complexity of pain management have contributed to increased demand for alternative pain treatment option. One such method is to increase the usage of topical pain relievers. In theory, this nonoral treatment has the advantage of local activity and fewer systemic side effects.

What is the main cause of joint pain?

Joint pain is a very common issue that can have a variety of reasons, but it is usually the result of an injury or arthritis. Joint discomfort that worsens over time is frequently a marker of osteoarthritis in the elderly. It can affect one joint or many.

What ingredients are good for pain and inflammation?

Despite the fact that they are all intended to ease pain, different products use different ingredients.
– Counterirritants. Menthol, methyl salicylate (evergreen oil), and camphor are among the ingredients. They can produce a burning or cooling sensation that will take your thoughts away from the pain.

– NSAIDs. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in topical form. They should not be used if you are also taking oral NSAIDS.

– Lidocaine. It comes in the form of a gel or a patch that is applied to the sore area. If you have liver problems or take heart rhythm medications, consult your doctor first.

– Arnica. Arnica-containing topical products are another option. Arnica is a sunflower family herb whose flowers are used medicinally to treat stiffness and pain.

– Salicylates. Some creams include the same chemicals that give aspirin its pain-relieving effects. They may aid with pain when absorbed into the skin, especially in joints near to the skin, such as the fingers, knees, and elbows.

– Capsaicin. Capsaicin, the active element in hot chili peppers, is also one of the most efficient ingredients for topical pain relief.

Best Topical Cream for Pain and Inflammation

1. Penetrex Joint and Muscle Therapy Cream 
2. DULÀC Arnica Gel Cream Maximum Strength

Counterirritants (Menthol / camphor)
5. Bengay Ultra Strength Topical Pain Relief Cream
6. CareAll Muscle & Joint Vanishing Scent Gel

A. Arnica Topical Cream

Is arnica an anti inflammatory cream?
Yes. Several Arnica species contain an anti-inflammatory compound. This is believed to ease pain, stiffness, and bruises. It is generally given to the skin topically.

1. Penetrex Joint and Muscle Therapy Cream - Best Muscle and Joint Relief Cream

– Penetrex Pain Relief Cream
– Intensive Concentrate for Relief & Recovery
– Whole-Body Formula with Arnica, Vitamin B6 & MSM (DMSO2)
– Penetrex is recommended for use on its own & is safe to use in conjunction with complementary therapies such as Heating Pads, Ice Packs, Back Massagers, Knee Braces and Supplements.
– Relief & Recovery for Joints & Muscles on your Back, Neck, Knee, Hand, Foot, and more.
– Contains unique ingredients including Arnica, Glucosamine, MSM (DMSO2), Choline, Boswellia Serrata (Frankincense) & Vitamin B6 deep into the tissue to soothe affected areas.– Vanishing scent / non-greasy / non-sticky / non-staining / paraben-free
– Vegan and Cruelty-free (never tested on animals).

4.3 out of 5 – 70,458 global ratings

Penetrex Pain Relief Cream Reviews
If I wake up with a sore back or neck, I rub this in and it instantly diminishes the pain at least 75 percent. I rubbed it into my hands and wrists and it helped my carpel tunnel at least 40- 50 percent.

2. DULÀC Arnica Gel Cream Maximum Strength

DULÀC Arnica Cream

The very high concentration of Arnica montana extracts (35%) makes our Arnica gel cream ideal for massages dedicated to bruise, swelling and discomfort in muscles and joints. Enriched with essential oils of mint and eucalyptus, which refresh the area for a long time giving topical relief. atural formula, suitable even for the most sensitive skin of babies. Salve without parabens, without mineral oils, without silicones
– Made in Italy.
– Dermatologically tested and have a natural formulation
– Muscle and Joint relief
– Perfect for insect bites | Goodbye itching!

4.7 out of 5 – more than 800 global ratings

Dulac Arnica Gel Cream Reviews
I never knew a cream like this could take pain away in sore muscles, and decrease bruising! This product is amazing. Helps my very sore muscles from fibromyalgia. Even helped my husband’s sore elbow. I highly recommend!

3. Brookethorne Naturals Relief Arnica Cream

Brookethorne Naturals Arnica Cream

Our All Natural Relief Arnica Cream can help to provide you with some much needed relief & relaxation. Arnica has been used for many years as a natural remedy for muscle aches & pains, stiff joints, bruising & more. Our formula is highly concentrated, allowing for maximum effectiveness.

Some of nature’s best remedies for muscle pain and soreness have been combined to create this effective body cream. Essential Oils of Arnica Montana, Eucalyptus, Lemongrass & Rosemary work together to provide natural relief.

This product is ideal for:
– The Active Lifestyle (Runners, Weightlifters, Cyclists & More…)
– Massage (Great for massage therapy & home use)
– Joint Pain Relief & Muscle Soreness
– Bruising & Swelling

4.5 out of 5 – more than 700 global ratings

Brookenthorne Naturals Relief Arnica Cream Reviews
I use this on my back, my feet, and any other muscle that I pull, strain, or overuse. This all natural product works well in reducing pain and inflammation. I also like the scent.

4. Kneipp Arnica Joint & Muscle Intensive Cream

Kneipp Arnica Joint & Muscle Cream

Kneipp arnica cream contains arnica tincture for a powerful dose of botanical soothing benefits released by nature. Overworked, exhausted muscles and pangs don’t stand a chance against this intensive solution. It is easy to apply and fast acting so you can get back to your schedule.
– Vegan and contain no harmful preservatives, parabens or mineral oils.
– Soothe and comfort joints and muscles
– Best pain relief cream for joint pain

Benefits of Arnica Extract
– Help reduce pain related to sore muscles and joints
– Help heal bruises faster
– Aid in reducing swelling and inflammation
– Help speed recovery
– Help ease joint stiffness and aches
– Help reduce swelling from insect bites

4.5 out of 5 – more than 400 global ratings

Kneipp Arnica Muscle Pain Relief Cream Reviews
I was looking for a non-greasy cream to alleviate sore muscles and joints ‘the day after’ all day gardening work. This cream is non-greasy once worked into the skin and my muscles did not feel sore the next day. Arnica is known to help with bruised skin. Will buy this again and check out other products offered by Kneipp.
Sent it to a friend recently and it was a great success

B. Counterirritant Cream

5. Bengay Ultra Strength Topical Pain Relief Cream

Bengay Pain Relief Cream

4-ounce tube of non-greasy Bengay Ultra Strength Topical Pain Relief Cream to ease backaches, minor arthritis, muscle, and joint pain. Topical analgesic contains three pain-relieving ingredients—camphor, menthol, and methyl salicylate, for ultra-strong relief in a non-greasy cream. Bengay is a physician-recommended OTC topical analgesic. Contains more pain-relieving ingredients than any other Bengay product.
– Non Greasy
– Relieves the minor aches and pains of muscles and joints

4.5 out of 5 – more than 8,900 global ratings

Bengay Ultra Strength Pain Relief Cream Reviews
I bought this to treat tendonitis in my knee. I tried four other products but none worked as well as this product! The product went on easily and was not greasy. It did not stain. Within 30 mins I had relief from pain and swelling. I will buy this product again. I highly recommend this product.

6. CareAll Muscle & Joint Vanishing Scent Gel

CareAll Muscle & Joint Gel
Contains Active Ingredient: Menthol 2.5%. Temporary relief from the minor aches and pains of muscles and joints associated with backache, arthritis, strains, bruises and sprains.
– Fast Acting: This Non-Greasy Pain-Relieving Cream is easily absorbed by the skin and formulated to provide quick relief.
– Deep penetrating: This cream penetrates deeply to aid with pain associated with backache, arthritis, strains, bruises, and sprains.

4.6 out of 5 – more than 100 global ratings

CareAll Muscle and Joint Vanishing Scent Gel Reviews
I purchased this item because my local drug store was out of the name brand product that we usually purchase. I must tell you that it worked for my husband’s severe back pain. He said it worked better than the other stuff. The package states that there is a vanishing scent and it does subside after about 5 minutes. I recommend this product.

C. Topical NSAID Cream

What are NSAIDs?
Topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. Often called as NSAIDs, it is contain a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agent and are designed to be applied directly to the skin overlying a painful joint or area of bone. They are used to relieve pain and to treat symptoms of arthritis such as inflammation, swelling, and stiffness. (Source)

NSAIDs side effects | Are topical NSAIDs safe?
Topical NSAIDs are less likely than oral NSAIDs to cause gastrointestinal side effects or to interact with other medications, although elderly people may be more susceptible to these effects. Short-lived, mild redness at the site of application is the most commonly reported side effect. (Source)

7. Voltaren Arthritis Pain Gel for Topical Arthritis Pain Relief

Voltaren Topical Pain Relief
Voltaren arthritis pain gel cream contains diclofenac, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Diclofenac works by reducing substances in the body that cause pain and inflammation.

While most topical arthritis pain relief products heat or cool the surface of the skin, Voltaren Arthritis Pain Gel treats the pain. The Voltaren emulgel formula, which combines a cream and a gel, penetrates deep through the skin to deliver powerful arthritis pain relief. When applied to the skin it creates a cooling and moisturizing effect. That’s the Voltaren difference – topical arthritis pain relief when and where you need it.
– No Prescription Needed | Topical anti inflammatory cream over the counter

4.5 out of 5 – more than 36,500 global ratings

Voltaren Arthritis Pain Gel Reviews
Love it I have lowback arthritis..and I was in pain due to I’m a healthcare worker . I put this on and it relief my pain . Felt brand new the next day. Good to have. Love it

D. Lidocaine Cream

Is lidocaine cream safe / Is numbing cream safe?
Topical lidocaine is typically safe when used sparingly and as advised. Misuse, overuse, or overdose, on the other hand, can result in a variety of serious health issues.
But if you have concerning side effects, stop using it and consult to your doctor.

Can you buy lidocaine cream over the counter?
Lidocaine come in many different forms, such as ointment, creams, gels, and most of them are available over the counter.

8. Aspercreme with Lidocaine Maximum Strength Pain Relief Cream

Aspercreme with Lidocaine Pain Relief Cream

One (1) 4.3-ounce bottle of Aspercreme with Lidocaine Maximum Strength Pain Relief Cream. Topical numbing creme with 4% lidocaine targets more pain receptors to numb away minor pains with no irritation or burning Among counterirritant topical pain relievers.
– Fast acting Formula
– Fragrance-free and non-greasy.
– Where to Use: Back, Neck, Shoulder, Knee, Elbow, Hand, Wrist, Foot

4.5 out of 5 – more than 2,500 global ratings

Aspercreme with Lidocaine Reviews
I have arthritis from head to foot. On bad days, this product takes the edge off and makes the pain tolerable. I recommend it to any chronic pain patient.

9. Hemorrhoid Topical Numbing Cream 5% Lidocaine with Hemp Oil

Hemorrhoid Topical 5% Lidocaine

Maximum dose for non-prescription anesthetic treatment. Combining a proprietary lidocaine with HEMP oil provides an extra degree of numbing and comfort allowing you to heal quicker. Great for different sections, hemorrhoid, local and anorectal pain.

Enhanced with hemp oils – Hemp oil is known for its pain relieving benefits. With our proprietary blend of maximum strength lidocaine and HEMP oil, the hemp can alleviate the swelling, itching, and pain as well relaxing the general area. At the same time the lidocaine will treat the hemmorhoid.
– Fast Acting

4.5 out of 5 – more than 2,500 global ratings

Aspercreme with Lidocaine Reviews
I have arthritis from head to foot. On bad days, this product takes the edge off and makes the pain tolerable. I recommend it to any chronic pain patient.

E. Other Topical Creams for Pain and Inflammation

10. Topricin Pain Relief Therapy Cream

Topricin Pain Relief Cream

Topricin is moisturizing, non-irritating, odorless and non-staining. It supports the body’s natural processes that work to Heal the Cells Causing the Pain. Topricin has 22-years of history in the medical community and is used by hundreds of thousands all over the world.

Topricin contains 11-natural biomedicines delivering reliable pain relief, improving quality-of-life, and providing a strong adjunct to professional care with no side effects and won’t interfere with other medications

The safest alternative for people who cannot tolerate prescription and non-prescription OTC oral pain medication. It stimulates and supports your body’s desire to “”Heal the Cells that are Causing the Pain””. Topricin is safe effective and ideal treatment for the entire family and for all skin types.
– Topricin Pain Relief Cream
– Best cream for muscle knots

4.4 out of 5 – more than 4,800 global ratings

Topricin Pain Relief Therapy Reviews
It works wonders on the muscle knots in my shoulders.

11. Heel Traumeel S Ointment Cream - Best Pain Relief Cream for Joint Pain

Heel Traumeel S Ointment for Musculoskeletal Injuries

Traumeel is an anti inflammatory cream that helps with the treatment of symptoms such as..
- Pain and inflammation caused by injuries of various types (sporting, accidents)
- Sprains, strains, bruising, haematomas, bone fractures
- Degenerative processes that progress with inflammation and suppuration of different organs and tissues (for example parodontitis, gingivitis, parodontosis) and of the musculoskeletal apparatus and ligaments (tendovaginitis, bursitis, tennis elbow), osteoarthritis of the hip, knee and small joints.

4.7 out of 5 – more than 1,850 global ratings

Traumeel S Ointment Cream Reviews
My husband had a little accident and tore leg muscles and a whole lotta other stuff. Our landlord recommended this cream and within two days, his leg look much better!! And after using it for two weeks, it’s barely even bruised. This cream relieves pain within a minute or so! Pretty incredible for such a bad injury. I’m a firm believer this stuff works! It’s in the results!

12. Boiron Calendula Burn - Topical Burn Relief Ointment

Boiron Calendula Ointment for Burn Relief

The flowers of the Calendula officinalis plant, also known as the Garden marigold, have been used topically for generations to naturally heal skin irritations. As the active ingredient in Boiron Calendula Cream, Calendula temporarily protects and helps promote healing of minor burns.

Calendula Burn works naturally with your body, and there’s no risk of overdose, no contraindications, no known drug interactions, and a very low risk of side effects when used as directed.
– Awarded the Parent Tested Parent Approved (PTPA) Seal of Approval
– Indication : Naturally treats minor burns.

4.6 out of 5 – more than 550 global ratings

Boiron Calendula Ointment for Minor Burn Reviews
Accidentally burn my chest with boiling water. My friend recommended this item and it was great. I’m not sure why the reviews ask about pain relief because it has none of that. But the cream itself really helps the skin heal I stopped using it after almost a month and as you can see in the pictures there is a small scaring but not bad barely noticeable. It’s thick and clear. 

I kept reapplying several times through the day as I felt it help a bit with the hitching of the skin pealing and recovering. Overall I loved this product and recommended to my friends.


1. How Can I Stop Joint Pain?

a. Stay at a healthy weight. Extra pounds put pressure on weight-bearing joints like hips and knees. Each pound you gain adds nearly four pounds of stress on your knees and puts six times the pressure on your hips.

b. Control your blood sugar. High blood sugar can stiffen the tissue that supports your joints and make them more sensitive to stress.

c. Exercise. Just 30 minutes of exercise five times a week helps joints stay limber and strengthens the muscles that support your knees and hips. Focus on low-impact exercises like walking, cycling or swimming.

d. Stretch. Gentle stretching can improve your range of motion and keep your joints limber. Try to work in simple stretches into every day.

e. Avoid injury. An injured joint is more likely to develop arthritis than one that was never injured. Wear protective gear when playing sports and always lift with your knees and hips, not your back.

f. Quit smoking. Smoking puts stress on tissues that protect your joints and can lead to arthritis pain. Learn how Blue Cross can help you quit.

g. Eat fish twice a week. Eat fish high in Omega-3s, like salmon, trout and mackerel. Omega-3s have many health benefits and may reduce inflammation.

h. Get routine preventive care. Your doctor may be able to suggest lifestyle changes that can help reduce your risk or slow the progress of arthritis.

2. What Causes Chronic Knee Pain?

Temporary knee pain is different from chronic knee pain. Many people experience temporary knee pain as a result of an injury or accident.

Chronic knee pain rarely goes away without treatment, and it isn’t always attributable to one incident. It’s most often the result of several causes or conditions.

Step 1 in dealing with a chronic knee pain is to know the cause or ‘diagnosis’, a term used by medical doctors. Treatment is step 2. This may appear logical but many people jump into various kind of treatments without even knowing the cause of the knee pain. Thus, wasting their hard-earned money in none effective treatments.

Physical conditions or diseases can cause knee pain. These include:
a. Osteoarthritis: pain, inflammation, and joint destruction caused by degeneration and deterioration of the joint

b. Tendinitis: pain in the front of the knee that is made worse when climbing, taking stairs, or walking up an incline

c. Bursitis: inflammation caused by repeated overuse or injury of the knee

d. Chondromalacia patella: damaged cartilage under the knee cap

e. Gout: arthritis caused by the buildup of uric acid

f. Baker’s cyst: a buildup of synovial fluid (fluid that lubricates the joint) behind the knee

g. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disorder that causes painful swelling and can eventually cause joint deformity and bone erosion
dislocation: dislocation of the kneecap most often the result of trauma

h. Meniscus tear: a rupture in one or more of the cartilage in the knee

i. Torn ligament: tear in one of the four ligaments in the knee — the most commonly injured ligament is the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)

j. Bone tumors: osteosarcoma (second most prevalent bone cancer), most commonly occurs in the knee
As you can see from the above, there are many causes of knee pain. That’s why you need to understand the importance of ‘diagnosis’ or finding the cause of the knee pain. Knee pain due to gout or rheumatoid arthritis has to be treated differently from knee osteoarthritis. A mis-diagnosis will lead to a mis-treatment.

3. How Can I Get Rid of Inflammation Naturally?

– Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Researchers have identified certain foods that can help control inflammation. Many of them are found in the so-called Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes fish, vegetables and olive oil, among other staples.

There’s a standardized research tool that’s updated regularly that allows anybody to see if they’re eating foods we know cause chronic inflammation. This is called the The Dietary Inflammatory Index or DII. The choices of pro-inflammatory foods were initially based on studies showing that certain foods like trans-fatty acids (unsaturated fats) caused a spike in serum inflammatory markers in people.

– Autoimmune Protocol Diet
The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) is a diet that aims to reduce inflammation, pain, and other symptoms caused by autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), celiac disease, and rheumatoid arthritis (pubmed).

Many people who have followed the AIP diet report improvements in the way they feel, as well as reductions in common symptoms of autoimmune disorders, such as fatigue and gut or joint pain. Yet, while research on this diet is promising, it’s also limited.

The AIP diet is an elimination diet designed to help reduce inflammation or other symptoms caused by autoimmune disorders.

It’s comprised of two phases designed to help you identify and ultimately avoid the foods that may trigger inflammation and disease-specific symptoms. Research on its efficacy is limited but appears promising.

Due to its limited downsides, people with autoimmune disorders generally have little to lose by giving it a try. However, it’s likely best to seek guidance from a qualified health professional to ensure you continue to meet your nutrient needs throughout all phases of this diet.

4. Is pain relief cream safe?

These treatments are generally considered safe for the majority of people. If you’re on blood thinners, stay away from creams with salicylates as the active ingredient, as they can cause bleeding and bruising. Pain relievers should not be used on children under the age of four.

Burning, itching, or a rash at the application site are all possible side effects. If you have a rash or irritation on your skin while using a pain reliever cream, stop using it and visit your doctor if the problem doesn’t go away in a few days.

5. Do pain relief creams work?

While you won’t get the same level of pain relief with an OTC pain reliever as you would from a prescription medicine or an oral pain reliever, these treatments can help with minor joint and muscular pain. They’re particularly effective for arthritis pain, bursitis, tendonitis, overused muscles, bruised or swollen joints, and minor strains and sprains.

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