Our writers spent 5 hours researching the most popular arthritis creams on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 30 different creams overall, screened options from 20 different brands and manufacturers, read over 50 user reviews (both positive and negative), and tested 1 of the creams themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.
While adding turmeric as a spice to foods tastes good, it has to be eaten in pretty large quantities to get a medicinal effect, as our gut does not absorb it well. The maximum pain relief effects are usually found with supplements that contain curcumin optimized for absorption (such as curcumin phosphatidylcholine complex). I like Meriva by Thorne Research, typical dosage of 500-1000mg twice daily. Although curcumin is much safer than anti-inflammatory medications, it does have some mild blood-thinning effects, so make sure to ask your health care provider before starting supplementation.
Finally, the active ingredients within a pain relief cream interact with local nerve endings to damp down inflammation, reduce pain and swelling and ease stiffness. All these different actions make topical, rub-in creams and gels highly effective for treating painful joints, sore muscles and sport injuries. Here, I’ve reviewed what I believe are the best pain relief creams, sore muscle creams and pain relief gels.

With more than 23,000 reviews on Amazon, customers give Penetrex sky-high marks for effective pain relief. If it doesn’t work for you, it comes with a 100 percent, no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee. Formulated to fight inflammation, it contains a mix of ingredients including arnica, choline, glucosamine, Vitamin B6, and MSM. It’s not odor-free, but rather has a light scent that disappears quickly after you apply it. You can use it alone or in conjunction with heating pads, massagers, ice, and other therapies.

tell your doctor if you have severe diarrhea or vomiting or think you may be dehydrated; if you drink or have a history of drinking large amounts of alcohol, and if you have or have ever had any of the conditions mentioned in the IMPORTANT WARNING section or asthma, especially if you have frequent stuffed or runny nose or nasal polyps (swelling of the lining of the nose); swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs; heart failure; or kidney or liver disease.
"I'm really big on heat, since it draws blood to the spot that is heated. I am a huge fan of ThermaCare Heatwraps ($8; drugstore.com) since you can just wrap or tape them on and go about your life (I really like and recommend using one at night if you have a knot, or an especially tight spot)." —Heidi Kristoffer, creator of CrossFlowX (Got PMS cramps? Kristoffer shares the best yoga poses to ease aches and bloating.)
Jackson, M., & Tummon Simmons, L. (2018, April 1). Challenging case in clinical practice: Improvement in chronic osteoarthritis pain with use of arnica oil massage, therapeutic ultrasound, and acupuncture — A case report [Abstract]. Alternative and Complementary Therapies, 24(2), 60–62. Retrieved from https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/act.2018.29152.mja?journalCode=act
Hi Bob, Naproxen is an anti-inflammatory (NSAID) that is working from the inside, so ideally you want a cream or gel that works in a different way to gain opimum benefits (otherwise I would recommend Voltarol Pain Relief Gel which contains another NSAID called diclofenac). Movelat contains salicylic acid, which is a weaker NSAID than Naproxen so it may not provide much additional relief. I find Celadrin cream works well. Hope your pain improves soon. Best wishes, Sarah B

After an injury, first rest, ice the area, use compression, and elevate the area. The acronym to help you remember is RICE. Rest the area. Ice the area 4 times a day for 10 to 15 minutes. If it looks better, compress the area with an Ace-type elastic bandage. To reduce swelling, ice helps, and so does elevating the area above your heart. When the swelling is down but you still have mild pain, apply a topical cream or gel according to the package directions. If it has worsened, consult your doctor.


Cinnamon is a popular natural remedy for helping to control blood sugar, but it can also keep inflammation levels low in the body and improve digestion. (20) Spices have long been used for medicinal purposes, but in a modern day where pharmaceutical options abound, it is rarer to use food as medicine. Still, cinnamon and other spices can have broad anti-inflammatory benefits and in many cases, can be equally as effective to (or more) than NSAIDs, whether over-the-counter or prescription. (21)
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