The best pain relief creams and gels are topical painkillers, analgesic creams or sprays, counterirritants, capsaicin and salicylates, according to WebMD. These gels and creams are best for joint pain and muscle aches.
Individuals suffering from painful ailments such as arthritis need as many options for pain relief as possible, explains Healthline. This is because the pain makes it difficult to walk around or perform other day-to-day activities. This isn't a justification for people to take large amounts of pain-relieving medications, creams and gels, however.
Pain relief creams and gels that contain camphor, menthol and methylsalicylate are counterirritants, which means they divert a person's mind from the pain by introducing a cooling effect, reports WebMD. Salicylates have similar pain relieving ingredients as aspirin. In this regard, they work best on pain experienced in joints near the skin such as knees, elbows, and fingers.
Capsaicin creams and gels have the same ingredients found in hot chili peppers. Gels and creams with capsaicin introduce a burning sensation when first applied to the skin, states WebMD, but the burning feeling goes away with time. One drawback to these products is the fact that users may have to apply these creams over a period of days or weeks to experience any pain relief.