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).
- Checkout our search list for: Best Creams and Gels for Back, Joints, Muscles
1. Over-the-Counter Pain Relief Products
Many of the creams, gels, lotions and more do relieve your slight pains and aches for your muscles and skin. If you have minor back or muscle aches from straining, or joint pain from osteoarthritis, the topical products might work for some and not work for others.
2. Typical Ingredients
You probably wonder what are in the topical products, right? Menthol is cooling, capsaicin from chili pepper makes your skin feel warm. Methyl salicylate, from the oil of wintergreen, also gives you a feeling of warmth or heat. Eucalyptus is also cooling. These ingredients are known as counter-irritants causing the nerves to have a less intense sensation where blood circulation might increase at the area as the theory goes. We just do not know the exact method for working.
- Counter-irritants containing the ingredients shown in the above paragraph aggravate nerve endings with the cool or warm feeling your skin perceives. This is thought to distract the brain from pain.
3. When to Avoid Using Pain Topical Products
You never want to put a heating pad on top of the topical product after it’s on your skin. It can cause skin irritation and possible burns. If you apply a lotion or gel having methyl salicylate, do not start exercising. Your body can absorb too much of it from your increased blood circulation and that’s not good. Do not put on areas such as broken skin, rashes, dermatitis, eczema, or irritated area. Pregnant and breastfeed women should not use topical pain relievers without consulting their doctor. Babies should not use these products, nor young children.
4. Risk Factors
Never use a topical product if you have open wounds, scratches, or broken skin to reduce risks. You don’t want to cover up these with Band-Aids. Never apply near your eyes or mucous membranes, including your private area. Be sure to follow the directions on the product. Using these products for too long can make you skin become sensitive and you might have an allergic reaction. If you use a patch and it starts to itch, burn, or your skin has a rash or is red, stop using it. You can use the product for a long time before your body becomes sensitive to one or more of the ingredients. If you have a reaction, see your healthcare provider at once. This can also happen with lotions, creams, sticks, roll-ons, and gels. Don’t keep adding more to your skin if the product doesn’t seem to work. More is not better.
5. Who Should Not Use Topical Pain Products
People with sensitive skin, infants, children, pregnant women, and seniors might be at a higher use using these products. People with kidney problems or kidney failure in the past shouldn’t try an Ibuprofen cream. If you take aspirin, prescribed blood thinners such as Coumadin (warfarin) or have bleeding of the gastrointestinal tract, consult your healthcare provider before using these topical pain products. Do not use salicylates that cause blood to be thinner.
6. When to Use Topical Pain Products
For minor aches or muscle pain, you can use topical pain medication sold over-the-counter without a prescription with your doctor’s approval.
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.
7. Creams vs Ointments
Creams are not as greasy as ointments that contain mineral oil and wash off easier. To remove ointments from your fingers and hands, use a shampoo.
- Foams—are easier to spread; they are similar to shave cream and hair mousse
- Gels—are less sticky and greasy and can dry your skin out if it contains alcohol; easier to apply to areas having hair
- Roll-ons—are similar to roll-on deodorants, they go on wet and are easy to apply when you do not like gels, lotions, or creams on your fingers or painful area
- Sprays—apply wet and dry quickly; great for areas that are hard to reach like you back
- Sticks—similar to roll-ons similar to the stick deodorant and are portable to take with you
8. Types of Pain for Using Creams and Other Topical Products
- Back Pain
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Feet and Heel Pain
- Golfer’s Elbow
- Knee and Hip Pain
- Muscle Pain
- Neck Pain
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Shin Splints
- Shoulder Pain
- Sore Muscles and Joints
- Sports Injuries
- Tennis Elbow
- Sore Muscles and Joints
9. How Does Pain Relief Cream Work
Suffering from joint pain, arthritis pain, and other kinds of chronic pain in the body can be such a hassle. Purchasing over-the-counter medications might come in handy when you want an instant topical pain relief. But the real question here is “how does a pain relief cream work”?
A pain relieving cream, (sometimes called topical pain relievers or topical anti-inflammatory painkillers) works by providing temporary but effective nerve pain relief when applied to the skin. Pain relief products work best on joints and muscles that are very close to the surface of the skin.
Its active ingredients are salicylates, counterirritants, and capsaicin. All these work together to soothe the affected area where the nerve pain relief cream was applied in ways such as reducing inflammation by constricting blood flow.
Top 5 Pain Relief Creams and Gels
1. Penetrex® Pain Relief Cream
The Penetrex® pain relief cream is a top choice for those suffering from arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, neck pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, sore aching joints and muscles, tennis and golfer’s elbow, neuropathy, sports injuries, plantar fasciitis, strains, sprains, hip and shoulder pain, all pain and other inflammations. The advanced development cream comes in a 2-ounce jar with other sizes available. Eight years went into the development and creation of this fantastic cream. Penetrex is favored by people troubled with inflammation related injuries because it works!
The Penetrex® inflammation formulations have received rave reviews on Amazon.com® since 2009. With the Penetrex® Pain Relief Cream you will need fewer applications, and it actually heals and repairs your problem without masking the pain. You can get around expensive prescription medications using this product. You will have no side effects and it is not addictive. The cream will increase and enhance your range of motion and flexibility when you have no pain to deal with.
The cream will not stain your clothing or you, is not greasy, has a pleasant fragrance that disappears, it is paraben-free, and no animal products are used nor is the product tested on animals. It is made in an FDA (Food and Drug Administration) certified lab in California, USA.
It contains arnica, a wonderful pain reliever used by many massage therapists, vitamin B6 that makes red blood cells that produces neurotransmitters, homocysteine levels, and also makes the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine; it has pyridoxine; choline bitartrate cetyl myristoleate; MSM (methylsulfonlmethane) that helps with scars, stretch marks, and pain; and has glucosamine, and boswellia serrata.
The jar is 2.3-inches tall and weighs 4 ounces. People in 100 and more countries are using this cream for their aches and pains. It is a wonderful agent to use before and after your workouts. It will relieve your sore joints and muscles tightness and soreness.
You will receive a 100% money back guarantee with a 2-year expiration date, and a lifetime refund policy by Penetrex, Biomax Health Products, Inc. started in 1998.
2. InstaNatural™ Pain Relief Gel with Menthol and Arnica
The InstaNatural™ pain relief gel is ohhh soo cooling for your sore aching back, chest, neck, elbows, arm muscles, knees, and arthritic conditions. Arthritis makes your bones ache and skin tender at that area. This will relax you and make you feel more comfortable. Arthritis stiffness is indeed very painful, especially in the fingers. This might provide relief to rheumatoid arthritis sufferers too, a more significant and painful condition. It performs well for tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, plantar fasciitis, fibromyalgia, and more aches and pains. The 2-ounce jar of gel will not stain your skin or clothes.
Inflammation and extreme pain can be alleviated with the ingredients in the gel. The gel can additionally be used if you have braces, wraps, and splints. It is useful for any physical therapy and massage therapy. The deep tissue massage by a massage therapist or even a home user friend will lessen your pain and aches.
The active ingredient is 5% menthol for a cooling pleasant feeling to your skin surface.
Other pleasing to the skin components are water, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, SD alcohol 40B, arnica Montana (arnica) flower extract, propylene glycol, acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate cross polymer, amino methyl propanol, dimethyl sulfone, pyridoxine HCl (vitamin B6).
It is made in the USA and no animals were used for testing. Use after you have finished your running or hiking, work out at the gym, or any strenuous activity. You will feel better, but cool your body down first.
InstaNatural™ provides to you its 100% satisfaction guaranteed or you will receive your money back.
3. Pure Body Naturals™ Hot Cream - Anti-Cellulite, Skin Deep Muscle Relaxation
The Pure Body Naturals™ was started by Jonathan Stevens who believes that everyone is a natural beauty! He noticed a blank spot in the marketplace for a product not yet developed, so created this cream with natural ingredients with no fillers or chemicals.
The cream is affordable, effective, and gives wonderful results. You will want to use products that keep you that way. The hot cream is available in a large 8.8-ounce orange jar with either a silver metal or white plastic lid and the contents are always the same. It is 100% natural and 87% organic. It will firm up and tone your skin and remove that stubborn cellulite. Additionally, it warms up your aching and sore muscles for relief from that pain. Another benefit is that by firming up and reducing fat, you can be as trim as you want to be.
Have your friend or partner give you a relaxing massage for your tired sore muscles at the end of the day and you do the same for them. Aging, as many know, is not too kind giving us cellulite, sagging skin, wrinkles, and other things we despise. Muscles are not as taunt and tight as they were when we were younger. And, the young people can keep their youthful appearance with this cream.
Not only does this cream attack ugly lumpy and bumpy cellulite by improving your blood circulation to burn off fat cells there, it also relieves aches in your muscles. The juniper and sweet basil are going to help with the cellulite problem. You will tighten and tone your skin for that smooth look you love with the cinnamon oil and rosemary.
For those sore muscles and inflammation, peppermint oil and pine will relieve your aches and the chamomile and eucalyptus relieve tender feeling pain. For relieving the stress you are feeling, pink grapefruit, lemongrass, and spearmint oil will do that for you. These are all natural products providing you with vitamins A and C and antioxidants with the aloe vera providing moisture to your skin.
Check the ingredients and be sure you are not allergic to any of them.
Aloe barbadensis (organic aloe) leaf juice, Limnanthes alba (meadow foam) seed oil, mentha arvensis (menthol), capsicum (capsicum annuum) oleoresin, cinnamomum camphora (white camphor) essential oil, ocimum basilicum (sweet basil) essential oil, piper nigrum (black pepper) essential oil, anthemis nobilis (Roman chamomile) flower essential oil, chamomilla recutita (German chamomile) flower essential oil, cinnamomum zeylanicum (cinnamon) leaf essential oil, cymbopogon winterianus (citronella) essential oil, eucalyptus globulus (eucalyptus) leaf essential oil, helichrysum italicum (helichrysum) essential oil, zingiber officinale (ginger) root essential oil, citrus paradisi (pink grapefruit) essential oil, juniper communis (juniper) berry essential oil, cymbopogon flexuous (lemongrass) essential oil, mentha piperita (peppermint) essential oil, pinus sylvestris (pine) needle essential oil, ravensara aromatica (ravensara) essential oil, Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf essential oil, mentha spicata (spearmint) essential oil, origanum vulgare (wild oregano) essential oil, glycerin, hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel), water, alcohol, phenoxyethanol, carbomertriethanolamine (TEA), and tetrasodium (EDTA)
The minty fragrance is fresh and relaxing for in-home use and therapists as well who know and understand their clients’ bodies and skin type. Your skin will love you for using this cream.
For External Use Only: Do not allow children or youngers to use and be careful with elders. Never use on babies! Do not use if you have a rash, redness, or any irritation. Do not get near your eyes ever! Do not use on sports injuries, rashes, open or broken skin, dermatitis, or eczema. Do not use on shingles!
Pure Body Naturals™ offers a 100% money back guarantee for your satisfaction and will refund your money if you are not happy. The customer-focused service representatives will answer any of your questions or concerns. You have nothing to lose with this risk-free offer. The cream is made in the USA.
4. Biofreeze® Pain Relief Gel
The Biofreeze® pain relief gel is available in 16-, 32-, or 128-ounce bottles and is offered as the colorless or original green formula. The company has been making pain relief products for over 25 years. It is the #1 product that has been clinically used by professional healthcare hands-on providers, massage therapists, physical therapists, chiropractors, foot doctors (podiatrists), athletic coaches, instructors, and trainers. This is considered the best pain relief cream for muscle pain perfect for athletes. When professionals have over a hundred clients each week, the economical 128-ounce jug might be best for you for not running out. You always want it on hand for clients with sore aching body parts.
The pump bottle is convenient to use never needing to remove a lid for an analgesic (no aspirin) providing instant and direct pain relief to muscles and joints, such as arthritic pain. There are no NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), Ibuprofen, aspirin, or other salicylates. The gel penetrates fast for those strains and sprains in muscle tissues and works just as well on hands, wrists, elbows, arm, ankles, feet, knees—your entire body. The gel will give you temporary relief from minor aches and pains of sore muscles and joints from arthritis, backache, strains and sprains.
The well-known and impressive gel is long lasting containing no dyes, parabens, or propylene glycol. The ingredients are USP-grade (United States Pharmacopoeial) for your confidence using.
The smaller bottles are just the right size for home users needing relief from their aches and pains. Biofreeze® pain reliever is good for exercising that has caused uncomfortable pain, injury, or sore muscles. The gel has a slight menthol fragrance and will go away after about 10 minutes.
The active ingredient is 4% menthol for a cooling sensation.
The Inactive ingredients are aloe barbadensis leaf extract, arnica Montana flower extract, Actium lappa root (burdock) extract, boswellia carterii resin extract, calendula officinalis extract, carbomer, camellia sinensis (green tea) leaf extract, camphor, glycerin, ilex paraguariensis leaf extract, isopropyl alcohol, isopropyl myristate, melissa officinalis (lemon balm) leaf extract, silica, tocopheryl (vitamin E) acetate, triethanolamine, water, blue 1, and yellow 5. Ilex is a skin protectant for topical skin barrier gels and lotions designed to protect the skin from harmful irritants such as urine and feces. It usually contains good things such as corn starch, white petroleum jelly, and zinc oxide.
Warranty information is unavailable. It is made in Akron, Ohio, USA and ships from different retailers in different states here.
5. Sombra® Warm Therapy Natural Pain Relieving Gel
The Sombra® orange fragrance is ever so refreshing, is not greasy, will not stain your clothes or skin, and uses no alcohol in the ingredients. It is not tested on animals and is made in the USA. The 8-ounce jar is affordable and has warm and cool ingredients for your pain relief immediately.
It contains 6 natural plant extracts combining with menthol, witch hazel, and capsaicin, the heat from chili peppers. Witch hazel has been used for years alone as a potent medicinal plant native to North America, China, Japan, and other parts of Asia. The therapeutic benefits come from the small tree’s bark and leaves.
Sombra’s® warm therapy gel detoxes sore joints, tight, knotted muscles, spasms, and helps to alleviate arthritis pain and inflammation. The gel contains no gluten, waxes, oils, chemicals, or artificial colors. It is considered the best pain relief cream for arthritis.
The active ingredients are camphor USP 3.0% an external analgesic, and menthol USP 3.0%.
The inactive Ingredients are aloe vera extract, capsaicin, carbomer, decyl polyglucose, deionized water, grapefruit seed extract, green tea extract, orange peel extract, queen of the prairie extract, rose water, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, vegetable glycerin, witch hazel, and yucca extract.
It is available in a variety of sizes:
3-ounce roll-on, 8-ounce container, 4-ounce container, 32-ounce (1-gallon) container, 2-ounce container or tube, 5 grams, 100/pack dispenser box, and 1-gallon pump. The bottles, roll-ons or jars, come in the cool or warm varieties.
The 8-ounce jar is 3-inches high x 3-inches in diameter and weighs about 6-ounces and can be put in your purse or satchel to take with you.
Warranty information is unavailable. The Sombra® is made in the USA.
- Always consult with your doctor if you notice some side effects
- Wash your hands before and after applying the cream
- Make sure to apply the product on the appropriate areas
- Consult the use of pain relievers with a doctor when used in kids, elderly, pregnant women and those who are injured
Final Thoughts on the Best Pain Relief Cream
At the end of the day, we all want to be pain-free to enjoy life. We hope the products listed here will give you sound sleep and restful moments pain-free. Read customer reviews to see what those folks’ experiences have been to help you with making a decision.