The 8 Best Arthritis Creams to Buy in 2018

Get relief fast with these top-picks

Arthritis is a painful and sometimes crippling condition that affects more than 50 million Americans. There are many different types of arthritis, but one thing sufferers all have in common is the desire for relief from the pain, swelling, and stiffness that typically accompany it. Fortunately, there are a host of over-the-counter creams that can help. While they may not work for every arthritis sufferer, there are many that can help.

You should always consult with a medical professional to get a diagnosis and consultant about treatments, but if they suggest an OTC cream as part of your treatment, there are some good ones to consider. You can find creams with various ingredients and in a variety of formats, including gels, roll-ons, and lotions. Some have a cooling effect, while others bring the heat, and there are scented and unscented options, so it all comes down to preference.

Here are the top arthritis creams to try. 

1

Best Overall: Aspercreme Pain Relieving Cream with Lidocaine

When it comes to relieving the pain associated with arthritis, many swear by Aspercreme. It contains 4 percent lidocaine, which is a numbing agent, so it acts fast to ease ​the pain temporarily. The cream is odor-free and non-greasy, and it also comes in roll-on and patch formulas.

Customers attest to the fact that it relieves pain immediately, and say it’s a good staple to have in your medicine cabinet to treat all kinds of aches and pains beyond arthritis as well. They like that it’s not greasy, doesn’t burn and rubs in easily. Some say it works better than pills because you can apply it directly to the areas that are experiencing pain, and they love that it doesn’t have the medicinal smell of some other pain-relief creams.

2

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Penetrez Pain Relief Therapy (2 oz)

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.

Customers say it provides relief that allows them to do things they couldn’t without it. It’s a “miracle cream from heaven,” and “magic in a jar,” according to some. While it doesn’t work for everyone, the majority of customers say it’s a great alternative to pain medications and they’re pleasantly surprised that it lives up to the hype.

3

Best Roll-On: Stopain Extra Strength Pain Relief Roll-on 3 Ounce

The soothing sensation of a rollerball can add additional relief for some arthritis sufferers, and this version from Stopain is popular. The active ingredient is menthol, which provides a cooling effect. It also contains MSM and glucosamine as well as eucalyptus and peppermint oils in a non-greasy formula that won’t stain clothing. You can apply it up to four times a day, and customers say it works to alleviate pain quickly.

Hundreds of reviewers on Amazon say this cream is one of the best they’ve found to relieve arthritis pain as well as the pain from other conditions. It does have a medicinal odor, but most say that it’s not overpowering and beats having to take pills for pain relief.

4

Best Odor-Free: Blue Emu Original Analgesic Cream, 12 Ounce

Many arthritis creams have a telling medicinal smell, but you won’t get that from this Blue Emu cream. Like other arthritis creams on the market, it contains glucosamine and MSM. What stands out about this one, however, is that it contains emu oil (thus the name), which promises to penetrate deeply into the skin and provide soothing relief to joints and muscles. Thousands of customers say it delivers on those promises too.

While it’s not a cure for arthritis, customers say it does provide significant relief from symptoms. They say it’s a good value for the price, and that they love that it truly doesn’t have a scent.

5

Best All-Natural: Outback All-Natural Pain Relief

The packaging for this Outback cream doesn’t look like that of your typical arthritis cream, and thousands of customers say it doesn’t work like one either. They say, in fact, that Outback works better than them. It was developed by Dave Ireland, aka the Wildlife Man, who couldn’t find relief from his arthritis pain, so he developed this and put his picture on it.

Its active ingredients include eucalyptus oil and tea tree oil, but nothing that will heat up your skin or provide the icy, cooling sensation that some other arthritis creams do. It comes in a roller-ball format, which you use to massage the product into the skin. Devoted fans say it’s the best pain-relief cream on the market, and they love that it doesn’t come with a lingering medicinal scent.

6

Best Lotion: Two Old Goats Essential Oil Lotion

Customers say that while they were skeptical at first, they are pleasantly surprised by just how well this lotion from Two Old Goats works to relieve arthritis pain. Its name come from its key ingredient—goat’s milk—which is blended with essential oils, including lavender, rosemary, peppermint, and eucalyptus in a formula designed to penetrate deep into your joints and muscles. All those oils also act as a moisturizer so it keeps your skin looking great too, and the pump bottle makes it easy to dispense.

Hundreds of customers have given it a five-star review on Amazon, noting that the pain relief is long lasting and for many it has eliminated their need to take pills. Most are fans of the smell too, saying it’s mild and much more pleasant than other more medicinal-scented creams.

7

Best Gel: Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel for Arthritis

For a blast of cool pain relief, Biofreeze has been a go-to for arthritis sufferers for decades. Made with 4 percent menthol, this gel promises immediate relief from pain that’s long-lasting. It has a light green color, so you can see where you’re applying it, but it also comes in a colorless version as well. Both versions are greaseless and have a scent that’s designed to disappear after application.

Thousands of customers attest to the pain-relieving power of Biofreeze. Some say the initial smell is a bit strong, but that it fades, and they love the cooling sensation.

8

Best With Capsaicin: Zostrix Maximum Strength Natural Pain Relief Cream

While some people prefer a cooling cream to treat arthritis pain, it’s warmth, like that in this cream from Zostrix, that brings relief for others. Its key ingredient is capsaicin (1 percent), which comes from cayenne peppers and works to block your body’s pain messenger.

Because it brings the heat, you should wash your hands immediately after applying (you may even want to wear gloves), and you definitely need to be careful about getting it in your eyes. For some, the heat is too intense. Overall though, most customers say it provides excellent pain relief, and they love the unscented formula.

Our Process

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.
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