What are the best topical pain relief products?

There are a lot of topical pain relief products on the market today, but they aren’t all created equal. The best pain relief cream isn’t going to be the same for each person. Choosing the best topical pain relief means finding the product that is best suited to your type of pain, considering how fast you need the pain relief to work, and other preferences. Use our product reviews to find the best topical pain relief for your body.

You might be used to reaching for a pill when you’re in pain, but that’s not the only, or even always the best, way to deal with pain. You could benefit more from topical pain relief, especially if you’re suffering from minor pain and want to avoid the possible side effects of overly-powerful oral pain medication. Topical pain relief refers to creams, gels, ointments, and sometimes even sprays that contain the active ingredients you need to ease your aches and relieve your pain.

Pain relief cream can bring temporary relief from joint pain, arthritis, muscle pain caused by overdoing it in the gym or on the sports field, and other types of pain. It’s ideal for athletes who’ve pulled a muscle, or sedentary office workers who find their neck muscles aching at the end of a long day. Unlike oral medication, topical pain relief can be applied just to the affected area, which reduces side effects and increases the speed of pain relief.  

Topical pain relief is a good choice for anyone who has difficulty swallowing pills. It’s also great for those who have a sensitive stomach that is easily irritated by popular oral analgesics, because pain relief cream is absorbed through the skin, instead of being metabolized and digested via the stomach. Muscle pain relief cream is best for back or shoulder pain, neck pain, leg pain, or pain in the joints.

How does topical pain relief work?

All topical pain relief needs to be applied to the area that hurts, either by rubbing it on, spraying it, or squeezing it onto the skin. Here are some of the main ways that pain relief creams work:

Top 10 Pain Relief Brands

Active ingredients

Contains HEMP?

Natural ingredients


How to buy?

How fast does it work?

Tested on animals?

pain relief cream 1Menthol 15%, Camphor 10%Yes, from natural, organic, THC-free industrial hempYesFDA-MonographOver the counter, onlineInstantlyNo
Menthol, camphor, capsaicinNoYesFDA approvedOver the counter, onlineInstantlyNo
IcyHotMenthol 10%, Methyl Salicylate 30%NoNoNot evaluated by the FDAOver the counter, onlineInstantlyNo
pain relief cream 4Camphor 4%, Menthol 10%, Methyl salicylate 30%NoNoFDA registeredOnlineInstantlyYes
pain relief cream 5Menthol, CamphorNoNoNo informationOnlineCan take up to 2 weeks to be effectiveNo
pain relief cream 6Capsaicin 0.033%NoYesNot evaluated by the FDAOver the counter, onlineOptimum pain relief occurs after 2-4 weeks of useNo information
pain relief cream 7Salicylate 10%NoNoNot evaluated by the FDAOver the counter, onlineInstantlyNo
pain relief cream 8Salicylate 10%NoNoNot evaluated by the FDAOver the counter, onlineInstantlyNo
pain relief cream 9Menthol 10%NoNoFDA registeredOver the counter, onlineInstantlyNo
pain relief cream 10Camphor 11%, Menthol 10%, Cajuput Oil 7%, Clove Oil 5%NoYesNot evaluated by the FDAOver the counter, onlineInstantlyNo

Topical pain relief can ease minor aches fast

The best topical pain relief eases aches, pains, and soreness faster than a pill and with less fuss. If you have had a reaction to oral pain relief that uses NSAIDs, or want local, fast acting pain relief, topical pain relief is the best choice. To summarize, "Back and Neck" cream is our favorite and all-natural topical pain relief product. It has the highest proportion of active menthol and camphor out of all the products we tested, and it’s infused with organic, safe, non-psychoactive Hemp excract, making it the most powerful pain relief cream. Another option is Sore No More, which is also all-natural, using capsaicin which makes it effective over the long term, but provides a slow-acting pain relief effect. We also recommend IcyHot cream if you want to access a topical NSAID that reduces inflammation and pain, even though it’s not an all-natural product.

Whether you choose a gel, spray, or cream, make sure that the treatment you buy is OTC registered, uses natural ingredients that aren’t tested on animals, and contains a high percentage of active pain relieving ingredients.

Our Winner for The Best Pain Relief Cream