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How Do I Choose the Best Joint Pain Cream?

People with arthritis can apply glucosamine cream directly to the inflamed and painful joint.
A tube of joint pain cream.
A pharmacist can often help a patient choose the best joint pain cream.
A man with joint pain.
Creams with capsaicin, a chemical that gives red peppers their heat, can be used to relieve joint pain.
Article Details
  • Written By: Solomon Branch
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Joint pain cream is used on sore joints that arise from an injury, overuse or from an ongoing condition, such as arthritis. The cream is meant to provide relief of the pain and stiffness that arises as well as help in the healing process. There are many creams available, so choosing one that is best for you can be a challenging proposition. Some key things to consider when choosing a cream for joint pain are cost, proper ingredients and effectiveness.

Most over-the-counter creams — those that are available without a prescription — can be found at a local drug store or pharmacy. Many health food stores carry them as well. They usually contain many ingredients, but they should contain either menthol, capsaicin or salicylates in order to be effective:

Menthol probably is the most common ingredient found in joint pain creams. It is responsible for the strong smell that is often associated with pain relieving creams. Menthol acts by overriding the sense of pain with a sensation of hot or cold. It is often used with camphor, a substance that has similar properties.

Capsaicin is extracted from certain peppers and is responsible for the burning sensation you feel when eating them. It acts by interfering with chemicals that are responsible for sending pain signals to the brain. Creams with capsaicin should be used with care, because they can irritate broken skin and/or the eyes. Salicylates is the active pain-relieving ingredient found in aspirin.

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Many types of joint pain cream will also have other ingredients that can help relieve any other symptoms you might have, such as inflammation and swelling, and a good joint pain cream will usually have those as well. If you don't recognize a particular ingredient, it might be best to ask the pharmacist or herbalist about what the ingredient does, so that you can get the best match for your symptoms. He or she will also usually be able to tell you what creams most people prefer to use, or at least which ones sell the best. It’s always a good idea to ask for a sample as well, because many stores offer smaller trial sizes or have samples available to test.

Creams that are similar in ingredients can be very different in effectiveness and how they work for each individual. Some creams can be oilier than others, and some can have a stronger odor, and these qualities might not be desirable for everyone. There might be some creams that have ingredients that other people find unnecessary, such as ingredients that add a particular aroma. It's important that you sample a join pain cream, if possible, after you find one that has the proper ingredients, is in your price range and has been found to be effective by other people. By following these steps, you can be sure to choose a joint pain cream that you will use and can keep using.

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