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One of the best ways to manage RA pain is to find the best arthritis cream for pain relief.
But how do you find the best one to use for you?
Let’s dive more into arthritis creams for pain relief.
How Does Arthritis Cream Work?
Creams are an over-the-counter (OTC) way to handle your arthritis pain.
They do include medications, but the doses are much lower and safer than prescriptions.
Creams should be used according to the directions for maximum effect.
Arthritis cream is absorbed through the skin, usually at the site of the pain or discomfort.
Creams work best when the affected joint is located near the skin, such as hands and knees.
There are generally four key ingredients that you will find in these topical remedies:
1 – Capsaicin
Capsaicin is a natural element found in chili peppers.
A capsaicin-based cream will reduce your cells’ ability to send pain messages to the brain.
Capsaicin is among the most-studied of topical pain relievers.
These types of creams are best used a few times a day, and it may take a couple of weeks before you feel consistent relief.
Examples of capsaicin-based products include:
2 – Salicylates
Salicylates include the common pain relievers found in aspirin.
If you are allergic to aspirin, a salicylate-based cream will not be a good choice.
There are a variety of salicylates-based creams, such as:
3 – Counterairritants
Counterirritants work by using menthol, camphor, or similar substances to produce a sensation of hot or cold.
This sensation may temporarily override your ability to feel the pain from your arthritis.
Counterirritants are often used alongside salicylates, although some creams contain only counterirritants.
Examples of these creams include:
- Icy Hot
- Tiger Balm
- Therapeutic Mineral Ice
4 – Cetylated Fatty Acid (CFA)
Cetylated fatty acid (CFA) is found in fish oil and has been shown to reduce inflammation.
An example of a cream including CFAs is:
- Celadrin, marketed by Proprietary Nutritionals, Inc
How Often You Should Use Creams
You should always follow package directions.
Ask a doctor if you are unsure of how to use your arthritis cream.
How often you use the cream will depend on the active ingredients.
Capsaicin is best used several times a day, which will help build up the effect.
Over time, this cream becomes more effective until it reaches its peak.
In the beginning, a capsaicin cream may make your skin burn, but this effect will lessen with regular application.
You will need to be careful how much of a salicylates-based cream you use.
Because these products have the same ingredients as aspirin, taking too much can have significant side effects.
Creams that contain counterirritants or CFA but not salicylates can be used up to four times a day, or according to package directions.
Frequent use will help these products be more effective.
Is Arthritis Cream Effective?
Many studies show that arthritis cream is effective in providing short-term relief of arthritis symptoms.
In one study, capsaicin creams were used by patients for 30 days. 40% of them found significant pain relief.
In the study, the patients’ pain reduced by half.
Another study showed that creams containing CFA improved mobility when taken consistently over 30 days.
Salicylates are known to be effective in reducing pain as well.
Using them can improve the quality of life in those with arthritis.
Counterirritants are often included with other active ingredients.
They have proved to be an effective way of soothing joints and distracting the mind from the pain.
Most arthritis creams contain non-medicinal ingredients.
As a result, the benefits will likely not be as dramatic as a prescription drug.
However, topical interventions can be used more consistently with fewer side effects.
They can be effective for moderate pain or in combination with pain relievers.
How to Safely Use Creams
Arthritis cream is safer than many other medication options for arthritis.
It’s still important to be cautious when applying them.
You should always follow package directions.
Capsaicin creams are related to chili peppers so you should always wear gloves when applying them.
Take care not to get any type of cream or gel into your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Never apply cream to broken or irritated skin.
Stop using the product if it causes irritation or skin sensitivity.
Be sure only to use salicylates occasionally unless directed otherwise by your doctor.
Creams generally do not create side effects beyond minor skin irritation.
Hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing are symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Stop using the product right away and seek medical care.
If You Need More Pain Relief
You may find that your pain isn’t impacted enough by topical creams.
You may consider using creams alongside prescription solutions.
There are also over-the-counter medications that may help, such as ibuprofen and aspirin.
There are also natural topical cream options using CBD oil for arthritis relief.
There are also physical exercises you can do that will make a significant difference in your pain and mobility levels.
If you struggle with rheumatoid arthritis, you will probably need a combination of therapies.
The disease is progressive, and any single approach is not likely to yield the results you are looking for.
Some common prescription medications include:
- Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
- Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs
- Steroid injections
Before beginning any medical regimen, be sure to consult with your doctor.
Tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking.
This includes over-the-counter medicine, supplements, and creams.
The primary thing to keep in mind is that there are ways to use fewer prescription medications.
Natural remedies, exercise, diet, and supplements can all help.
A combination approach can help you relieve pain while staying healthier and experiencing fewer side effects.
For another natural RA relief tip, find out about 6 foods to avoid if you have RA right here.
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