Best 3 Topical Pain Relief Creams 2019

Since I opened my massage practice, I am also trying new products in my office to see what works best for my clients. My office is littered with half full tubes of many different pain relief creams claiming to help with inflammation and muscles and joint aches. I have learned over the years many products do not live up to the hype they claim to possess.

Despite several failed products I do have a short list of pain relief creams you should give a try if you suffer from arthritic, sore fatigue muscles. As always I must stress, what works for some does not work for all. The creams I will discuss some have been FDA approved and others have not. If you wish to try one or more of these products, be sure to read the labels and purchase at your own discretion. With that said here is my top three creams you should give a try.

1: Penetrex Pain Relief Cream

Penetrex has been described as “magic in a bottle” I was first introduced to this cream by a long time client who I see on a regular basis in the summer since she is a snow bird. Utilizing a Revolutionary Delivery System, Penetrex delivers Clinically Proven Ingredients including Arnica, Glucosamine, MSM (DMSO2), Choline, Boswellia Serrata & Vitamin B6 deep into affected areas. Vanishing Scent / Made in the USA / Non-Greasy / Non-Staining / Paraben-Free / NEVER Tested on Animals.

What people are saying about Penetrex

Extremely light scent. Minutes after rubbing it on, the scent was gone, and the pain RELIEF took over. It works FAST! I can not be without it. I now sleep peacefully during the night, when my pain is at its worse. I purchased the bigger jar with the rationale that if it didn’t work, it was going back. It works, and I am now on my second jar. Best pain reliever and softest and most gentle cream, that I have ever touched my painful, old, and tender body.

I have been using Penetrex for more then two years. I am 78 year old with severe arthritis due to loss of all cartilage in both shoulders. I receive shots in each shoulder every 4 months or so. They do help but I still have a great deal of pain daily. Penetrex eases this pain quickly from the very beginning. I also have some arthritis in my neck and knees, so I use Penetrex there also. I mean this sincerely, this product has been a blessing to me. I am able to work part time as a host in a restaurant where I also help with busing tables. I couldn’t do this job without my Penetrex. I have recommended it to everyone and many have thanked me introducing it to them. I urge you to give This product a try. Use as suggested and you hopefully will get the help I have gotten. It is worth paying a little more then over the counter products I have previously used. A little goes a long way.”

What makes Penetrex so effective for pain relief is due to it’s main active indigence, Arnica.

Arnica comes from the perennial Arnica montana, a yellow-orangish flower that grows in the mountains of Europe and Siberia. It’s sometimes called the “mountain daisy,” because its color and petals look like the familiar flower. Creams and ointments made from the flower head can be used to address the following ailments:

  • muscle soreness and aches
  • bruising
  • joint pain and swelling
  • inflammation

It is widely recommend not to ingest the plant by itself as it could make you sick and in worst cases cause death. When creams like Penetrex use arnica it is diluted but still very effective for therapeutic needs for topical pain relief. You will not find any medicine that is meant for internal use to contain arnica but it is safe for topical use in small dose and is quite effective.

This cream comes in a 2 oz container and retails for $19. It is also available in a 3 oz roll on version for $25. The Penetrex also comes in a 4 oz container but I always recommend trying the smaller portion first to make sure it works for you. If you are one to base your purchasing persuasions on the number of reviews an item has, then Penetrex has you covered in that department with just shy of 23,000  five star reviews. If you read through any of the reviews you will see so many amazing stories of chronic pain and arthritis  just vanish with this product. Stories like that make my inner massage nerd giggle.

After 8 years of research and development and over 23,000 positive reviews, the people have spoken, this stuff work!

2: Organic Hemp Extract Pain Relief Cream Plus Arnica and MSM

CBD Oil is new to many of us so there will be a learning curve for most. I live in Indiana and it was only a few months ago that a bill was passed making CBD Oil legal for purchase. Since I work closely with those that suffer from chronic pain I had been watching the news closely leading up to the CBD Oil vote. A few days after the bill passed I headed into my local herb and supplement store to check out the latest additions. Since CBD oil was brand new to Indiana I did not have a lot of selections and the clerk was not exactly helpful. In fact, I felt like I was educating him more then getting my questions answered. Regardless, I ended up purchasing a traditional drop oil to be ingested or I could add it to my massage oil and I also purchased a topical balm.  In total the 2 items cost me around $90.

The balm I purchased contained only 50 mg per 2 oz of actual CBD extract. This is a weak amount of oil that has little to no effect, which I learned after only a few uses. I believe it had a mild effect on my mother as I worked it into her shoulder but when I used it on myself, I didn’t feel the $40 price tag. If you are looking to purchase any CBD oil products, you want to see 100-200 mg for topicals and it can go as high as 200 mg per 2 oz. The higher the mg the stronger the concentrate.  The Alpha hemp relieve cream listed above has 100 mg per 2 oz and is 100{52b16a40bdef839be06e08eb8273b306e5347bd39e49b1e9b9a0e489352200ea} organic with a price tag of $30 on Amazon. I currently do not offer CBD oil products in my office at this time since there is still to much gray area surrounding this product. In years to come I hope to incorporate it into my practice in a big way!

3: Biofreeze

I LOVE BIOFREEZE! I have used this product since I started my career as a massage therapist 10 years ago. Biofreeze is a light green gel that goes on cool to sooth soar achy muscles. It does have a sent to it but once the gel drys, the smell disappears; not like icy hot where the smell last far beyond the benefits of the cream. Biofreeze comes in three forms:

  1. Gel
  2. Roll on
  3. Spray

I have always recommended my clients to not get the spray because I  feel you lose some of the product that way. I always use gel, it is easy to take just what I need for that client and not run the risk of cross contamination. The roll on is great for personal use, as you can lightly massage the gel into the soar area. Both the Biofreeze gel and roll on  retail for $10 on amazon. Until recently Biofreeze could only be purchased by health care professionals, now you can find it conveniently in your local grocery store. I must note Amazon has the best price, I have seen Walmart is consistently higher by a few dollars. I love this product so much I used to give it to my family members as Christmas stocking stuffers.

Active ingredient in Biofreeze

  1. Camphor (Cinnamomum camphara)
  2. Aloe
  3. Arnica
  4. Burdock Root
  5. Boswellia
  6. Calendula
  7. Green Tea
  8.  Lemon Balm
  9. Vitamin E

The ingredients to pay the most attention to are: Camphor, Aloe, Arnica, and Burdock Root.

Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora) is a terpene (organic compound) that’s commonly used in creams, ointments, lotions, and gels.  It can be used topically to relieve pain, irritation, and itching. Camphor is also used to relieve chest congestion and inflammatory conditions.

Aloe as many of us know is a soothing agent with a soft pleasant smell. This is what gives the Biofreeze the cool sensation when you apply the gel to your skin.

Arinica as sated above is a yellow-orangish flower that is not meant to for ingesting but is amazing for topical pain relief creams. It widely used among many topical pain relief creams.

Burdock Root is the most important piece to this puzzle, listed below are a few of many healing properties Burdock Root possess.


Research from 2010 has shown that burdock root contains multiple types of powerful antioxidants, including quercetin, luteolin, and phenolic acids. Antioxidants protect cells in the body from damage due to free radicals. They can help treat and prevent a number of different health conditions.

removes toxins

One of the most common traditional uses for burdock root has been to purify the blood. Recent evidence has found that burdock root can remove toxins from the bloodstream.


Another traditional use of burdock root is as an aphrodisiac. A 2012 study on male rats found that the extract of burdock root had an aphrodisiac effect. The extract enhanced sexual function and increased the amount of sexual behavior in the male rats. More research is needed on humans, but anecdotal evidence supports this claim.

treat skin issues

Burdock root has long been used to treat skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, and eczema. The anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of the root can help resolve skin issues when it’s applied topically to the skin. One study from 2014 even found evidence that burdock root may help treat topical burns.

Biofreeze is truly a one stop shop when it comes to topical creams for pain relief, that is if you do not mind the mild smell of mint. Sorry it does not come with a odor free option. Truly any topical skin pain relief cream will have some smell to it, unfortunately there is no way around that but Biofreeze’s mild smell does go away quickly.



I have used many arthritis pain relief creams over the years that have provided some relief for my clients achy soar muscles  but of them these 3 are the best in my opinion. When applying the creams or gel, a little goes along way. Per client I use around a nickels worth of product and that covers the area just fine. When using a roll on, simply apply the product directly to the skin and lightly roll over the affected area till you have a even layer of coverage. Between Penetrex , Hemp Extract, or Biofreeze I have used all three and I find different creams work better for different people.

Just like anything in life you just have to give them a try and see what works for you. I will say I have used Biofreeze on A LOT of people and no one has ever complained about it. On a personal note I use Penetrex nightly, after I had my son my right low back has never been the same and sadly I hurt every day from those injuries.

If you are looking for pain treatments for arthritis, muscle spasms, chronic or sudden onset body pains then you need to try these creams. Try not to reach for a pain pill as they don’t do anything expect tell your brain you are not in pain, which can cause more injuries down the line.  If you are experiencing a significant amount of pain or inflammation, it is safe to apply each of these products multiple times throughout the day.

Do not apply any pain relief cream to open sores, bug bits, or visible rashes. If you experience irritation or a rash from these products, stop using them immediately and if the irritation does not clear up, talk to your doctor.

I hope you found this article helpful and if you have any question or if you have found other pain relief creams that work for you, please share and thanks for reading!


Up data:

I recently attended the annual the 2018 AMTA conference and I got a whole bunch of goodies to try out on my clients! As many conferences go I received many free samples ( I love samples) and I got to meet vendors in the health and wellness industry that are hard at work trying to impact the community in a positive way.

Of all the products I saw, one stood out me that I was eager to try, doTerra Deep Blue Rub.

doTerra’s Deep Blue Essential Oil cream/lotion is the best find I have made all year for helping with chronic pain. No joke, this cream helps soothe nagging aches and pains in my joints and helps my clients. This is a must have cream for anyone who suffers from chronic pain. Since learning about this product I have recommended it to many of my clients.

This cream is similar to icy hot, except it does not have any harsh chemicals and it does not cause pain or irritation to the skin. When you put it on at first it is cold, but then it gets warm and then cools and then warms and then cooks. The essential oils must have the perfect combination to take the pain away from achy joints and muscles.

After years of massage my hands hurt often and the Deep Blue Rub has helped with this pain tremendously.  I rub this on my hands and within minutes the pain is manageable and I can move forward with my tasks for the day. I have also used it on my lower back where I have some degeneration in my right hip.

During long car rides my back would hurt so bad and I rub some of this all over my lower back and I can tolerate the long distance.

Things to keep in mind when using Deep Blue Rub

1. A little goes a long way. The cream is expensive and their is no need to use large amounts on one area when just a dime sized amount will nicely rub into each are and soothe and take away pain.
2. Always wash your hands after applying. If you are someone who rubs your eyes a lot be sure to wash hands, because it does not feel good if it gets into the eyes.
4. Lastly, it’s an expensive lotion, but if used in small quantities it will last a long time and you will not be disappointed in the results.

Conclusion # 2

I hope you found this article helpful as you look for a variety of pain relief creams, I hope you find the one that works the best for you. If you happen to find a different skin care product for pain relief that I did not mention, please let me know how well it worked for you. I am always on the hunt for products to best serve my clients needs. Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions.


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After 13 years of massage therapy I have learned so much about the body and I want to share that knowledge with you. I will highlight a variety of products that are ideal for all types of bodies for personal use. I hope my insight will help you better understand your pain so you can take back your life and start living again!

12 thoughts on “Best 3 Topical Pain Relief Creams 2019

  1. Loved this article!

    I actually have been dealing with some type of inflammation or something with my plantar fascia. The last year it has just been hurting a ton!!

    Well, a few months ago while up in Utah visiting my family my mom gave my wife and I some Deep Blue for my wife to use. I just recently started using it on my foot while my amazing wife gently massages it! 

    It has made a huge difference in taking down the inflammation and I highly recommend it! Since I am using Deep Blue do I need to use anything else like the Bio Freeze? Or is it good enough?



    1. If you found a product that’s working I would stick with it! However, biofreeze is great for sudden strains and sprains in muscles and works great in those cases. Deep blue works as well but I like to use deep blue for my ongoing trouble areas like my low back

  2. I think this post has a lot of information in it and I leant a lot form it. I was interested to read your opinion about CBD oil coming from s professional, it was interesting to read your views on its effectiveness.

    Do you think CBD oil is more effective when digested? 

    I’m a big fan of Arnica and think it’s a brilliant Healer. I normally digest this but I know it is also good for bruising when applied to the skin.

    The deep blue rub looks good, how does it compare to your 3 main choices?

    1. Their is still much to be learned from cbd oils and its healing properties. Using cbd externally in a cream or balm form will provide temperarly relief whare as ingesting cbd oil on a regular basic can build in your system allowing long term pain relief. You just want to make sure the cbd oil creams or balms are a minimum of 100mg per 2oz of product 🙂 

  3. Wow, all of these creams look awesome! Biofreeze is the only one I have heard of, but I didn’t know what Biofreeze was for. It seems like a good one to have on hand. I have perpetually tight neck and upper back/shoulder muscles. Would this help? Or would you recommend a different course of action? Deep tissue massage hasn’t really loosened it and it’s always bothering me.

    1. If you have deep in bedded trigger point deep tissue massage would not be pleasent. You want to look for creams that have anti-inflammatory ingredients like Deep Blue Rub illustrationed last on the post. Lightly massage the cream into the affected area and it’s also ok to alternate hot/cold for no more then 10 minutes. This will allow your muscles to expand and contract making it possible for fresh enriched blood to enter the tight area

  4. This is exactly what I need, as my 6 year old boy has been missing school for the past few days, due to fatigue and painful calves as a result of a viral infection last week. This post-viral pain seems worse than the active stage of viral infection, causing him so much discomfort that he literally whines all day. 

    I’m going to try out Penetrex because of its arnica content, which I have read about it being the best natural pain reliever. Thanks!

    1. not a problem at all but being your son is 6 I would recommend talking to a pediatrician before administering any medicine to your son, just to be on the safe side. kiddos skin is sensitive and it could effect them differently 

  5. I agree with you – so many topical products don’t live up to their name. That’s why I am very choosy with what I put on my skin. I love arnica and boswellia, but haven’t heard of Penetrex. I’m so happy to know about it because it includes two of my favorite ingredients for pain. My mom has arthritis and I am going to tell her about this product. She’s always looking for ways to reduce her pain, and I like that it doesn’t have a scent. She immediately gets a headache with any kind of perfume or scented lotion. 

    HempRelieve sounds like an amazing product as well. I love MSM and have used it periodically through the years. I’m afraid BioFreeze isn’t an option for me because I have a sensitivity to aloe, which is unfortunate because I like Camphor as a pain reliever. I’m sure a lot of people can benefit from it. And how awesome that it’s also an aphrodisiac. Woo hoo!

    1. Every body is different so I would defiantly give Penetrex a try as it does not have aloe in it. It’s crazy how one cream is different from one and another. I hope your mom gets some relief 

  6. Having suffered with lower back pain virtually all my life, I have tried most traditional ways of relief from acupuncture, chiropractic adjustment, steroid injections and lots more. Nothing ever really worked long term.

    It seems Arnica is a product worth looking at. All 3 of the recommended creams have it.

    I am living in Thailand right now, is it easy to get any of these products?

    Would be worth checking them out. At 55 I have pretty much tried everything else!


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