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.
We always want the best pain relief cream, topical gels, sprays, roll-ons, sticks, sprays, patches, and sometime powders that make more of a mess. You will need to decide on what product is best for you or if you should see your doctor for stronger medication. Most of us try to stay away from prescription drugs and NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
ASU is a vegetable extract made from the oil of avocados and soybeans that is said to slow the progression of osteoarthritis. It slows down the production of inflammatory chemicals in the body and thus the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. It has also been found to spur new cartilage cell growth. It is available in capsule form at a recommended 300 mg daily.
Whether due to a challenging session at the gym or normal wear and tear associated with aging, back pain shouldn’t impair your daily activities. Finding the best pain relief cream for back pain is easy with the array of back creams for pain available. You can deal with back stiffness and soreness quickly and with minimal fuss. Instead of over-the-counter pills, try these ointments for back pain.
Physical therapists often recommend aquatic therapy — including exercises done in warm, therapeutic pools — for back pain. The buoyancy of the water helps alleviate strain on the joints to encourage strengthening and gentle stretching of the muscles. Even floating in warm water can help relax muscles and release tension as well as increase circulation, according to the Arthritis Foundation. With home whirlpool baths, try aiming the jets directly at your sore spots for a soothing underwater massage.
Just as the name suggests, these are very effective forms of treatment that you can use to not only get rid of pain experienced on different parts of your body, but the creams would also help you reduce any forms of inflammation that may be experienced. As long as you follow all the instructions provided on how to use the drugs, you would be able to get the best out of these forms of medication.
"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.)

Amanda has a Masters of Science in Nutrition from Syracuse University which equipped her with courses applied to licensure as a dietitian. She also worked as a Program Director for the Wellness and Fitness Department for the YMCA. She is well versed in physical fitness, with a certificate from the National Academy of Sports Medicine in physical fitness training. She has taught numerous fitness classes, including college courses in the Athletic Department, as an adjunct instructor, at the SUNY University at Buffalo. She currently resides with her husband in the NYC area, and loves to put her knowledge of anatomy and physiology to use by being active. Both her and her husband are self-declared "foodies."
Schematic showing another inflammatory pathway that is activated by tissue injury. This is the NF-kB activation, in which once the protein is free as a result of tissue injury, it can enter the cell nucleus and activate the DNA to enhance the inflammatory response further by the production of additional cytokines, chemokines, and adhesion molecules (IKKB = IkB kinase)
Few people need surgery for back pain. If you have unrelenting pain associated with radiating leg pain or progressive muscle weakness caused by nerve compression, you might benefit from surgery. Otherwise, surgery usually is reserved for pain related to structural problems, such as narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis) or a herniated disk, that hasn't responded to other therapy.
The first generic (cheaper) equivalent of Voltaren® Gel entered the marketplace in 2016, produced by Amneal Pharmaceutical. It should be widely available now. Both products are still prescription-only in the US, but fortunately they are over-the-counter almost everywhere else (there’s a rack of tubes of Voltaren by the till at my neighbhourhood drugstore).

Sometimes referred to as vitamin P, citrus bioflavonoids enhance the absorption of vitamin C and act as important antioxidants. Flavonoids also inhibit collagenase and elastase, the enzymes responsible for the breakdown of connective tissue. Connective tissue breakdown is one of the factors that may cause arthritis. Flavonoids reinforce the natural structure of collagen, improve the integrity of connective tissue, protect against free radical damage and are a great natural remedy for inflammation and pain.
To minimize your risks for a skin reaction, Cowling recommends doing a skin test before starting any topical pain reliever and washing your hands immediately after applying. Also don’t use topicals on any areas of the body where you have an open wound or broken skin, even a scratch. If you develop severe itching, redness, swelling or any other signs of a worsening skin reaction, contact your doctor. 

"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.)


It’s the breakthrough technology used that makes this patch so ideal for pain management without traditional painkillers. Energy medicine technology, based off of quantum physics, harnesses the signatures of over 200 natural remedies known for their anti-inflammation properties, like turmeric, vitamin D, magnesium, and Omega-3. These remedies are transferred through a resonant carrier wave onto the patch. The electrons from all these energies are activated once the patch is applied to the skin. It then works with your body’s natural healing process to bring you fast, fast pain relief.
5. Birch Leaf (Betula Lenta) – The leaves from the Birch tree act much like cortisone, a prescription drug used to treat endocrine disorders, arthritis, lupus, skin disease, autoimmune disorders, and more. A main chemical compound found in Birch leaves is methyl salicylate, similar to salicylic acid used in aspirin. It is anti-spasmodic, analgesic, astringent, antifungal, diuretic, detoxifying, reduces oxidative damage to skin (stopping wrinkles), and enhances circulation. It also promotes enzymatic secretions in the body. It is truly one of the first powerful pain-relievers ever used.
The use of fish oil (in the form of cod liver oil), an omega-3 EFA, for the treatment of muscular, skeletal, and discogenic diseases, can be traced back to the late 18th century as detailed by Curtis et al.,[24,25] Unfortunately, because of the rapid onset of rancidity of this polyunsaturated oil when exposed to air, and hence its disconcerting odor, cod liver oil fell out of favor. With improved extraction techniques, such as using a protective nitrogen blanket and enhanced oxygen-free encapsulation methods, there is less chance of oxidation during the manufacturing process. The therapeutic benefits of fish oil can now be realized without the regurgitation and odor of previous products caused by peroxides and rancid tasting fish oil.[14]
“I am a musician and have been one for almost 40 years. With practice and performance comes pain, which sometimes becomes chronic. I manage it with body work and adjustments but I can’t always be around practitioners, especially when I am traveling. These pain relieving patches fill the void extremely well providing relief, very quickly without chemicals or drugs. Kudos to Luminas for developing them. Highly recommended!” – Rafe S.
Menthol, Levomenthol, Eucalyptus, Camphor and Oil of Wintergreen are often added to topical joint treatments. These essential oils are absorbed into the skin and stimulate skin receptors to produce either a warm sensation or a cooling sensation as they numb the pain. They work by overwhelming nerve endings with these sensations so pain messages do not get passed on. This is known as a counter-irritant effect. Wintergreen is also a rich source of methyl salicylate, a natural anti-inflammatory painkiller related to aspirin. These essential oil creams and gels tend to have names such as Deep Heat or Deep Freeze to describe how they feel during use.
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.
Try an over-the-counter pain reliever. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin), and naproxen sodium (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn) can help reduce back pain. Acetaminophen (Actamin, Panadol, Tylenol) is another over-the-counter option for pain management. Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist about any interactions over-the-counter pain relievers may have with other medications you are taking. People with a history of certain medical conditions (such as ulcers, kidney disease, and liver disease) should avoid some medicines.
Funny how things like this slip through the cracks. I communicate with patients and professionals locally and abroad more or less all day every day, study and research musculoskeletal pain problems obsessively, and am more or less constantly immersed in answering the question, “What can you do for body parts that hurt?” And yet I didn’t hear about this stuff for a good year after it had already hit the shelves.
These proinflammatory cytokines result in chemoattractant for neutrophils and help them to stick to the endothelial cells for migration. They also stimulate white cell phagocytosis and the production of inflammatory lipid prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). NSAIDs’ ability to interfere with the production of prostaglandin during the inflammatory cascade is the major mechanism cited for the anti-inflammatory success of these medications [Figure 1].[112]
5. Birch Leaf (Betula Lenta) – The leaves from the Birch tree act much like cortisone, a prescription drug used to treat endocrine disorders, arthritis, lupus, skin disease, autoimmune disorders, and more. A main chemical compound found in Birch leaves is methyl salicylate, similar to salicylic acid used in aspirin. It is anti-spasmodic, analgesic, astringent, antifungal, diuretic, detoxifying, reduces oxidative damage to skin (stopping wrinkles), and enhances circulation. It also promotes enzymatic secretions in the body. It is truly one of the first powerful pain-relievers ever used.
Curcumin is the bioactive compound in turmeric that gives the herb its healing properties. It’s one of the safest anti-inflammatories you can take, and is an effective natural pain reliever too — even for severe pain. In fact, curcumin matches or outperforms ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and other over-the-counter painkillers without any side effects.[12]
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