Topical Joint Pain Relief Products - Find The Best Creams, Gels, and Rubs

Topical pain relief products include creams and gels to rub on painful joints. Read reviews and buy the best topical joint pain relief cream here.

Topical Pain Relief for Arthritis Joint Pain

Topical pain relief for sore muscles and joints comes in the form of a cream, gel, or rub. Whatever the medium, you either rub and spread the product all over the area that's causing you pain.

The pain should begin to diminish as the product is absorbed into your skin. These pain products don't all use the same ingredients, as there are several natural substances that can treat joint and muscle pain and stiffness.

These topical products that are sodium channel blockers work by anesthetising the nerve endings that are nearest to the skin. Other topical solutions decrease the inflammation in the joints.

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What are the Best Topical Joint Pain Relievers?

Topical joint pain relievers decrease pain and inflammation in the joint area, and they do this by decreasing the levels of the proteins that directly cause the joints and surrounding area to become inflamed.

Woman Suffering Shoulder Back Pain

When your joints are painful topical pain relievers may offer some relief. Shutterstock Images

Prostaglandins is an example of one such protein. These topical pain relievers are primarily anti-inflammatory agents. You spread them all over the area where you're having pain and stiffness, and they are absorbed into your skin (source).

They function best when your pain is close to the surface of the skin, since they are absorbed directly into the skin.

What Ingredients to look for in a Topical Joint Pain Product?

Some of the active ingredients often used in topical pain relief[1] products include:

Capsaicin: These are extracted from Chile pepper seeds. This substance can be extremely effective in treating joint pain, although creams using this ingredient only work after multiple applications[2].

Turmeric: Research carried out by Daily, et al in 2016 has proven conclusively that Turmeric is an effective substance in treating joint arthritis and the associated pain[3].

Salicylates: These are also referred to as willow tree, and they're a beta hydroxy acid (BHA). This substance is sold as a liniment for the purpose of treating joint and muscle pain and discomfort(source). The primary active ingredient is Bismuth subsalicylate, a salt of bismuth and salicylic acid which has anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties[4].

Counterirritants: These work on the principle of counter stimulation. Rather than make the pain and discomfort disappear, they create another irritation which is supposed to distract the user from the joint and muscle irritation[5].

Green Tea: This is often an ingredient in products that intend to treat joint and muscle pain and discomfort, because it contains special antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties called polyphenols. Research shows that it can also slow the decay of cartilage[6].

How Well Do They Work?

Opinions on the effectiveness of topical joint relief products differ, both in the research community and in the general population. Oral reports from arthritis sufferers are often positive, and these people often claim that the products have greatly improved their functioning.

However, the majority of research studies have found that the benefits of these products are exaggerated, and in fact, that seems to be true when looking at the results of consistent usage. Indeed there is some benefit, but only a moderate amount.

According to Mayoclinic, some studies even found very little difference between users of the products and the placebo group. However, other research has had more positive results.

Some research indicates that some of these topical joint relief products perform better if they are combined with other treatments, for example, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Why Should You Apply Topical Pain Relievers?

Injured Sportsmans

Some people find that topical products may provide relief from the foot arthritis pain. Shutterstock Images

These topical joint pain relief products are helpful for conditions like arthritis, especially osteoarthritis. The pain relief and reduction of inflammation is quite significant and can provide much improved quality of life for those who have these conditions.

They also provide arthritis patients with considerable improvement in day-to-day functioning. In many cases, using a topical pain reliever is a life changing event for the individual who has been living with so much pain.

Secondly, these creams and lotions are incredibly easy to apply; they only involve rubbing them into your skin. Most of the time they feel good against your skin and are more comfortable to use than swallowing a big pill.

Topical Joint Pain Relief Products - Are They Safe to Use?

Generally speaking, these creams are quite safe to use – with a few small precautions. It's important not to use more than the recommended dosage, because this can be harmful.

Creams that include the ingredient capsaicin may itch or sting, but this symptom generally goes away within a couple of weeks. Avoid rubbing these products in any area where you have a cut, abrasion or broken skin, or it will sting and be a bit painful.


Overall, using topical joint relief creams to treat your joint and muscle pain and inflammation is recommended. Choose your products carefully, going over the ingredients and researching them to make sure that this is the product you want. It's also important to double check that you aren't allergic or intolerant to any of the ingredients.

These products have had mixed reports in terms of effectiveness, but it's clear through oral reports that they have brought tremendous pain relief and improved functioning to many people.

Keep trying different products until you find one that you like. If you have questions or concerns, talk to your doctor.


We review published medical research in respected scientific journals to arrive at our conclusions about a product or health topic. This ensures the highest standard of scientific accuracy.

[1] Arthritis pain: Treatments absorbed through your skin - Mayo Clinic
[2] Capsaicin | Uses, side-effects | Versus Arthritis
[3] Effectiveness of curcuminoids in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials - Onakpoya - 2017 - International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases - Wiley Online Library
[4] Rubbing it in - Harvard Health
[5] Counterirritant - Wikipedia
[6] Green tea: a new option for the prevention or control of osteoarthritis | Arthritis Research & Therapy

**This is a subjective assessment based on the strength of the available informations and our estimation of efficacy.

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