The Best Creams for Arthritis in 2023

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Resting hand of a person on a leg after treating his arthritis with the best cream for arthritis.

Arthritis, or the inflammation of one or more joints, is one of the most common ailments in the U.S. which affects around one in every seven people. The best cream for arthritis helps to provide relief from painful symptoms such as stiffness and swelling in the joint area.

What Is Cream for Arthritis?

Cream for arthritis is a topical analgesic, which means it’s a form of pain relief that’s applied directly to the source of discomfort, stiffness or inflammation. The following video explains how arthritis develops and painful symptoms arise:

The active ingredient in a cream for arthritis is usually a natural anti-inflammatory, such as arnica or menthol, although some products can contain a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as diclofenac, ibuprofen or aspirin. Most over-the-counter products tend to feature natural active ingredients, although some which contain a lower dose of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug are available.

Cream for arthritis tends to be most effective on more superficial joints, such as the elbows, hands, feet, ankles and knees, because in these areas the active ingredient can be absorbed much closer to the affected joint.

Who Needs Cream for Arthritis?

Any cream for arthritis can be used by most sufferers of arthritis as it generally doesn’t contain prescription-strength drugs. These anti-inflammatory products are more effective for rheumatoid arthritis than osteoarthritis, as joint inflammation isn’t usually a major symptom with osteoarthritis.

These creams are a preferable alternative to taking oral medications, as there’s a much lower chance of side effects to the whole body. Only a doctor can diagnose arthritis and it’s important to consult with a medical professional before using a new treatment, especially for children, the elderly, and pregnant women.

The anti-inflammatory effects of a cream for arthritis are also beneficial for other conditions such as sciatica, bursitis, tendonitis, headaches, plantar fasciitis, fibromyalgia, repetitive strain injuries, bruising, and sporting injuries such as sprains and strains.

How Do I Choose the Best Cream for Arthritis?

When choosing the best cream for arthritis it’s important to consider the level of pain relief that you require, and a medical professional can advise you on what’s best for your needs and condition. Some products available can contain non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and these are generally more powerful than products containing natural anti-inflammatory remedies.

However, products comprising only natural remedies have a lower likelihood of contraindications or interactions with other drugs, and tend to be more gentle on the skin with less chance of irritation or a negative reaction. There are other features to consider such as the consistency of the product, colour, smell, and the likelihood of skin irritation if your skin is sensitive.

What Is the Best Way to Use a Cream for Arthritis?

The best way to use a cream for arthritis is to apply it topically to the painful area and massage until it’s absorbed. Cream for arthritis can be applied two to four times a day, to help relieve mild to moderate pain. It’s important to wash your hands after applying the cream, as it can irritate mucous membranes in the eyes, nose and mouth.

For maximum benefit it’s advisable to apply the treatment before exercising, and also before going to bed. Cream for arthritis can be used by itself, or in conjunction with a joint brace or other support. However a product containing non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs shouldn’t be used in conjunction with an oral treatment containing the same active ingredient, as complications such as stomach ulcers and bleeding can occur.

What Are the Features and Benefits of Cream for Arthritis?

Cream for arthritis has numerous benefits. It’s ideal for sufferers who have issues taking pills, or want to avoid having to take an extra pill each day. It’s a preferable method of treatment for sufferers who have gastrointestinal issues, as the treatment is absorbed externally and not through the stomach. The likelihood of side effects is very minimal, and the potential itching and redness of the skin which often occurs after the use of ointment is usually a result of other ingredients in the cream, not the active anti-inflammatory.

Many creams for arthritis have warming or cooling effects, which help to soothe pain, and some contain colour to help the user apply the treatment correctly to the affected area. Some products have an instant effect, whereas others take a few applications over a period of time to achieve more lasting results.

What Is the Best Cream for Arthritis?

With so many products and numerous creams on the market for the treatment of arthritis, it can be difficult to know where to start when selecting the best cream for your condition. We’ve made things easier for you by selecting five of the best creams for arthritis currently available, and evaluating each of them on features, quality and value for money.

Our Choice

In our opinion, the best cream for arthritis is Activene Arnica Gel Cream with Menthol and MSM. This product is lightweight, non greasy, non staining and gives both cooling and warming sensations.

The combination of many natural ingredients is effective for relieving pain and inflammation from arthritis, the cream can be used for other ailments and issues, and it’s the only FDA-approved product of the selection we evaluated.

While the effects of this arnica gel weren’t as instantaneous as some other products, they were much longer lasting than Topricin Pain Relief Cream, Boiron Arnica Cream for Pain Relief, and Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel.

The Activene gel also rated more highly for cost effectiveness than Penetrex Pain Relief Cream, and is the only product we evaluated which came with a free informational ebook. The combination of effectiveness, versatility and value for money makes Activene Arnica Gel Cream with Menthol and MSM the best cream for arthritis currently available.

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