This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy thru these links, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.
Or maybe your joints ache when it gets cold and a pain relief gel does the trick.
If you’re developing arthritis, chances are you’ve reached for a topical pain relief method at some point.
Whatever the case may be, topical pain relief creams and gels can alleviate some of your pain — when applied directly to the skin right over the pulled muscle or sore joint.
Here’s what you need to know about the 3 types of topical pain relief products…
#1 – Analgesics Or Aspirin-Like Rubs
Pro: If you have arthritis, analgesics actually reduce joint inflammation in addition to relieving the pain as they are absorbed into the skin.
Con: If you are allergic to aspirin, you should not use products containing salicylates without consulting your doctor first. Nor should you use them if you are already taking blood thinners.
#2 – Products That Make Your Skin Feel Hot Or Cold
These types of products are called counter-irritants because their job is to irritate your skin and thus take your mind off the pain. In doing so, you get almost immediate pain relief.
These products often contain ingredients such as menthol, eucalyptus oil, or oil of wintergreen in order to produce that irritating sensation that then feels soothing.
Pro: The immediate soothing sensation that you feel.
Con: The soothing effects don’t last very long.
#3 – Creams Created From Chili Pepper Seeds
Chili pepper seeds have an ingredient called capsaicin — which is the same ingredient that causes that burning sensation in your mouth when you eat chili peppers. These creams seem to be best for those with arthritis in joints that are close to the skin, such as your knees, fingers, and elbows.
Pro: You can “feel the burn” immediately after applying, so it definitely “feels” like it’s working.
Con: You have to apply them for a few weeks straight before you really begin to feel consistent pain relief. Also, the burning sensation can be irritating enough that people stop using them.
Do Topical Pain Relief Products Really Work?
So, are these topical pain relief creams and gels actually effective in terms of relieving pain?
As it turns out topical pain relief creams:
- Are perceived to be the best when it comes to relieving pain on a consistent basis.
- That contain counter-irritants really don’t do anything except take your mind off the pain temporarily.
- Created from chili peppers are good at relieving pain after you’ve used them for a couple of weeks straight.
While it appears that these topical pain relief gels and creams do offer short-term relief, unfortunately, there is not enough evidence to suggest that they can be helpful when used long term.
if you find that you are using them more and more often for arthritis or some other pain, the truth is your condition may be worsening and you should have it checked out by your doctor.
IMPORTANT: Topical pain relief products are not intended to take the place of your prescription arthritis medication.
A Bit More About Pain Relief Creams Worth Mentioning…
The effectiveness of topical pain relief products can be influenced by other medical conditions including:
- Broken or inflamed skin, burns, open wounds
- Atopic dermatitis or eczema (skin disorders)
- Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency (a type of anemia).
- Severe liver or kidney disease
- Methemoglobinemia (defective iron in the red blood cells; inhibits oxygen delivery to tissues)
- Intolerance to certain oral medications
Natural Topical Pain Relief Options
Some common pain relievers can be used topically (like ibuprofen and arnica). That way, the meds go straight into your bloodstream.
There are also some helpful home remedies for pain relief that may come in handy:
- Traumeel Ointment: A Homeopathic Formula For Heel Pain Relief
- How To Relieve Pain Without Medicine
- Menthol For Pain Relief
- Home Remedies For Joint Pain
- Topical Ibuprofen Products
- Extreme Home Remedies For Pain
- Arnica Gel For Homeopathic Topical Pain Relief
- Home Remedies For Back Pain
- Topical Pain Relief Medications – What You Need To Know
My favorite things to write about are topics that have to do with pregnancy, weddings, saving money, living green, and life with dogs. When I’m not writing, I love to spend time with my husband, read, create 3D artwork and Native American beadwork.