Easy to dispense bottle keeps things from getting too messy. Has a pleasant smell, isn't too greasy, and won't leave residue on skin or clothing. Absorbs fast and works quickly. Relieves multiple types of pain, from muscle soreness to chronic arthritis.
Many users complain that the dispenser malfunctions or breaks.
Feels smooth to the skin, greasy to apply, and absorbs quickly. Works within 10 to 15 minutes after applying. Contains natural ingredients that are not only safe to use on cuts and abrasions, but also as an effective topical to clear troubled sinuses and congestion.
Leaves a very strong scent and delivers a slight burning sensation when applied.
Avoids the strong smell commonly associated with pain relief creams. Its main ingredient, emu oil, is naturally effective at deeply penetrating the skin. This soothes aches while leaving skin soft and moisturized. Great value for the amount of cream per container.
Users with serious aches and pains will want a stronger formula.
Hemp extract works well to relieve inflammation and is highly effective on skin conditions. It also supports the body’s natural healing processes making it excellent on rashes and bruises. Smell dissipates quickly.
Some users may need to apply extra to feel effects and will go through the tub quickly.
Its primary ingredients work wonders for inflammation, which is the common cause for most pain. It avoids any burning sensations when applied, making it great for those with sensitive skin. It's not too greasy and has a mildly pleasant smell that doesn't linger.
Some users would prefer a stronger formula with quicker results.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
If you’re looking for a solution to keep everyday aches and pains at bay, it’s time to pick up a pain relief cream. Specially formulated to reduce inflammation and ease chronic pain, these creams provide relief and a soothing sensation while they work.
Pain relief creams have active ingredients, including menthol, that work together to treat aches and pains transdermally. The cream is applied to the affected area, and once it’s absorbed by the skin, an ongoing soothing sensation targets the pain. While these creams don’t prevent or stop pain long term, they’re helpful in the daily management of your condition. They’re ideal for individuals looking for topical relief, as well as those who try to stay away from oral pain relievers. If you’re trying to manage pain more holistically, there are pain relief creams that are made with all-natural ingredients that are non-GMO and free of parabens.
It’s time to introduce some pain relief cream into your pain management routine so you can work, play, or relax more comfortably. Read our buying guide and check out our recommendations to learn about the features and benefits so you can choose a cream that works for you.
Pain relief cream isn’t just for elders and athletes; it’s for anyone who experiences chronic pain, sustains sports injuries, or wants to get away from taking oral pain medication. It’s especially popular for treating the inflammation associated with arthritis, joint pain, and backache.
Some physical therapy offices, chiropractors, and pain management physicians also embrace cream as a less invasive treatment for patients. Pain relief cream is also used by those who are weight training because it provides relief to muscles while they heal between workouts. Individuals who suffer from fibromyalgia may find pain relief cream helpful, especially in their most affected areas.
Pain relief cream is applied and rubbed into the site of pain so it can be absorbed through the skin. It begins working within minutes to an hour after application, and its therapeutic effect lasts anywhere between a few and 24 hours. Some creams require reapplication two to three times a day, whereas others recommend only using it once a day. In some cases, pain relief cream is applied and then the area is wrapped with a bandage to ensure the product is absorbed through the skin.
Residue: Some pain relief cream has an oily, sticky consistency that easily transfers to surfaces. There are residue-free and greaseless formulas, though these still end up on clothing and surfaces to some extent. While most of the creams are clear, they contain oils, so they could permanently stain fabrics. If you want to avoid getting it anywhere except on your body, apply the cream to the affected area and wear an old T-shirt or cover the area with a towel until it’s fully absorbed.
Odor: Some pain relief creams have a strong, unpleasant odor. While there are many formulas with pleasant fragrances, the underlying medicinal odor is still present. It could be bothersome to those around you, especially at work, so you may want to opt for an odorless formula instead. These are harder to find and somewhat more expensive, but it does eliminate the noticeable smell.
Extended use: There are mixed reviews about using pain relief creams over the long term. Some people feel if you need it on a regular basis, you should seek medical attention to manage a condition that serious. Others feel the cream, especially an all-natural formula, is an alternative to invasive treatment and pain management.
Discreet option for busy people
If you want the most effective all-natural formula, this cream is a cut above the rest. Made in the USA and featuring the highest-quality ingredients, it’s free of GMOs, parabens, SLS, and color, sticking to the bare essentials to provide relief. As it’s non-greasy, residue-free, and colorless, it’s easy to use this pain relief cream discreetly, even at the office. This fact-acting solution works within minutes to provide quick relief so you can get back to the activities you enjoy.
Menthol is by far the most popular ingredient in pain relief creams. It provides a cooling sensation that soothes and masks pain. As for what else you’ll find in pain relief creams, there’s a broad range of ingredients. Emu oil, hemp, aloe vera, camphor, and methyl salicylate make their appearance in different creams because each contains properties that boost pain relief. Other popular ingredients are moisturizing agents, like oil or shea butter, which prevent skin from drying out even with frequent application.
If you’re looking for a more natural formula, there are pain relief creams that are non-GMO, free of parabens, and odorless. There are also formulas designed for sensitive skin, which include a greater concentration of moisturizers and irritation-free ingredients. As far as ethical sourcing goes, some pain relief creams have won approval or awards for their high standards, and it’s usually front and center on their packaging.
Pain relief creams come in different containers, with some easier and less messy to use than others.
Pump bottles: These dispensers are easy to use, especially for anyone with dexterity issues. A pump is as mess-free as a dispenser can get, and you usually get uniform amounts of cream with each pump.
Tubs and jars: These are popular containers for pain relief creams. While they’re easy to open, they’re not the most sanitary, because you’re placing your hand inside the product each time you use it, which means you could be transferring dirt or bacteria each time. It’s also harder to measure how much product you use unless you use a measuring spoon.
Tubes: Some pain relief creams come in tubes, especially travel-size versions of the product. It’s easy to get the product out of the tubes, but it could get messy if too much squirts out at once. Unfortunately, that’s common for these types of containers. Because pain relief cream tends to be pricey, you might want to think twice about getting it in a tube, as you might end up wasting product by accident.
Wash your hands thoroughly after applying pain relief cream, especially before touching your eyes or face.
Keep a travel-size container of pain relief cream in your gym bag to apply after grueling training sessions.
Most pain relief creams cost between $6 and $50, depending on the quality of the ingredients and how quickly they provide relief.
Inexpensive: If you’re on a budget, there are decent pain relief creams that cost between $6 and $15. Bottles in this price range are on the smaller side, and the creams may not offer the dramatic results of premium or clinical creams.
Mid-range: These pain relief creams cost between $15 and $30. You get a moderately sized bottle or tube, and these creams contain unique ingredients that boost their pain relief capabilities.
Expensive: If you’re willing to pay a premium for pain relief cream, about $30 to $50, you’ll get near-clinical-strength formulas. These work faster and last longer than the less expensive creams, plus the odors tend to be less intense. These creams are often manufactured by boutique or emerging brands, so information on them can be limited.
If you plan on applying pain relief cream at work or school, opt for one that doesn’t have a strong smell. The odor can be off-putting to colleagues, and some people get headaches from the smell.
Cool, long-lasting relief
This pain relief cream treats a multitude of ailments. It’s well liked by those who suffer from arthritis and fibromyalgia because it penetrates to relieve intense flare-ups and inflammation. If you suffer from colds or chest congestion, the cream is gentle enough to apply to the neck, forehead, and chest without causing irritation. A little goes a long way, so the 3.5-ounce tub is sure to last longer than comparable formulas. Best of all, this formula has a greaseless lotion base, so it won’t transfer residue to clothing or furniture.
For budget-friendly pain relief, we like BENGAY Ultra-Strength Topical Analgesic Cream. A reliable cream from an established brand in pain relief products, this one is ideal for treating sore muscles, strains, arthritis, sprains, and backaches. Its effectiveness is attributed to its winning combination of ingredients, including camphor, menthol, and methyl salicylate. The non-greasy cream is easy to apply, and you don’t need to worry about staining clothes or leaving residue on furniture.
If you’d like to get as close to clinical strength as possible in an OTC product, choose the Biofreeze Pain Relief Cream. This formula is a favorite among physical therapists, pharmacists, and athletic trainers for its fast-acting, long-lasting relief. Menthol gives the cream its soothing, cooling effect as it provides deep-penetrating relief to affected areas. If you have to bring pain relief cream on a trip, you’ll be glad to know this 3-ounce container is TSA approved for carry-on luggage.
Q. Will pain relief cream dry out my skin?
A. Certain ingredients found in pain relief cream have a side effect of drying skin, which is why most formulas include moisturizers to combat it. If you have sunburned skin or suffer from acne, pain relief cream will cause the condition to worsen because it activates on broken skin and could cause pain and redness and excessive dryness.
Q. Can I use pain relief cream on my face or forehead for headaches/migraines?
A. No, pain relief cream is not formulated for use on the face. In fact, its combination of ingredients is likely too harsh for facial skin and could cause inflammation or irritation. Applying the cream to your forehead and temples wouldn’t be effective for treating a headache or migraine; however, you may experience some tension relief if you apply it to the back of your neck and shoulders.
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