Arthritis creams can be helpful when other treatments such as exercise or pain medications are not an option, according to Healthline. Although exercise and over-the-counter pain medications help relieve arthritis, they both have limitations.
While arthritis creams only provide temporary relief, they can also be effective. Salicylates, counterirritants and capsaicin are the main types of arthritis creams, as explained by Healthline. There are a few topical creams that are available by prescription, as stated by Mayo Clinic. These contain the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac and are recommended for arthritic joints close to the surface of the body such as hands and knees.