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The 7 Best Arthritis Creams of 2021

Best overall: Biofreeze Professional Relief Aerosol Colorless

Biofreeze comes with a clinically recommended seal, and it's a longtime trusted brand for arthritis pain relief. The four-ounce colorless spray offers fast-acting relief and it might be the best version yet. Its smooth consistency absorbs fast. There is also a rollerball version that helps massage the gel into affected areas.

The active ingredient is menthol, which creates cooling sensations and temporary pain relief. It penetrates quickly to relieve pain on the back and all joints from the neck down to the ankle. The spray nozzle has continuous flow even when upside down to get those hard-to-reach aches.

Best Cream: Dr. Sayman’s Wonder Rub

Three powerful pain fighters give this creamy oil a punch. It contains max strength lidocaine alongside a botanical blend that aims to desensitize aggravated nerves. Together, they dull pain, reduce inflammation and swelling, and relieve stiff joints. “Lidocaine, a numbing medication, is a common ingredient in over-the-counter topical medications and can be very helpful. It comes in multiple forms, sometimes combined with other medications, ”says Dr. Barsoum.

The time-tested formula has 150 plus years of history to its credit, which boasts a pleasant texture and efficient pain relief on hands, feet, and other achy areas. Arnica creates an instant cooling sensation, while hemp oil targets inflammation and cannabinoid receptors. It's clear and has almost no odor.

Best with capsaicin: Capzasin HP’s Pain Relief Cream

Capzasin HP’s Pain Relief Creme is a potent pain reliever and pleasantly unscented. It relies on capsaicin as the active ingredient. This chemical compound is derived from hot chili peppers, and research has shown it can help relieve pain.

Capsaicin works by lessening the neurotransmitter responsible for sending pain signals. Unlike other pain relievers, it is not masking the aches with other sensations. "Medications like capsaicin strictly block the pain nerves and the way that they work," says Rochelle Rosian, MD, a staff member at Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Rheumatic and Immunologic Diseases.

You'll want to apply the cream with gloves to avoid getting the irritating active ingredient all over your hands, in your eyes, and on anything you touch.

Best Anti-Inflammatory: Tiger Balm Arthritis Rub

Containing a blend of natural herbal ingredients, Tiger Balm Arthritis Rub provides safe, fast, budget-friendly relief from arthritis joint pain and muscle aches. If you're experiencing symptoms like redness, warmth, and swelling, look for something with anti-inflammatory properties, like menthol and camphor, which are both ingredients in this product.

Dispensed from an easy-to-use arthritis-friendly pump, this anti-inflammatory topical lotion isn't greasy and doesn't contain skin-drying alcohol. While it's typically used for deep pain relief, like sore muscles, it can also be used for superficial pain, like shingles.

Best No-Mess Application: Salonpas Pain Relieving Patches

These patches put all the pain-relieving ingredients right where you need them. It's a no must, no fuss product with three powerful analgesics: camphor, menthol, methyl salicylate.

These patches are available in standard and large sizes, depending on what area you need to treat. Crafty customers also recommend trimming the patches into strips to pinpoint pain and avoid waste. The adhesive is as strong as the pain relief and cooling sensation, so patches stay put for over five hours, according to multiple customers. Dr. Barsoum says that "patches may be more convenient and less messy than creams or gels."