Skip to content

    Osteoarthritis Health Center

    Select An Article

    Arthritis and Topical Painkillers

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    If your arthritis pain is mild, if you have only a few joints affected by the disease, or if oral medications don't completely control your pain, you may find a topical pain reliever or topical analgesic useful.

    Topical painkillers are available as creams, salves, or gels. The active ingredients of topical painkillers include:

    Recommended Related to Osteoarthritis

    Joint Replacements for Osteoarthritis

    Osteoarthritis (OA) causes joint pain and stiffness for 27 million Americans. Although there are many medications and treatments to ease OA symptoms, many patients with severe OA decide to have joint replacement surgery. In fact, nearly 700,000 Americans undergo hip or knee replacement each year. Another 23,000 have shoulder replacement surgery.

    Read the Joint Replacements for Osteoarthritis article > >

    • Capsaicin. Found naturally in hot peppers, capsaicin is found in drug stores under the brand names of Capzasin-P, Zostrix, and other drugs. Capsaicin works by blocking the transmission of a pain-relaying substance called substance P to the brain.
    • Counter-irritants. Camphor, eucalyptus oil, and menthol are found in a variety of agents such as ArthriCare, Eucalyptamint, and Icy Hot amongst others. These substances are able to relieve pain by tricking the body to feel the coolness or heat of these agents.
    • Salicylates. This substance is available in Aspercreme, BenGay, and Flexall. Salicylates work by decreasing pain and inflammation.
    • NSAIDs. Topical NSAIDs penetrate the skin barrier and deliver the medication to the site of pain. Pennsaid and Voltaren gel are examples.


    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on January 13, 2015
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    elderly hands
    Even with arthritis pain.
    woman exercising
    Here are 7 easy tips.
     
    acupuncture needles in woman's back
    How it helps arthritis, migraines, and dental pain.
    chronic pain
    Get personalized tips to reduce discomfort.
     
    Keep Joints Healthy
    SLIDESHOW
    Chronic Pain Healthcheck
    HEALTH CHECK
     
    close up of man with gut
    Article
    man knee support
    Article
     
    woman with cold compress
    QUIZ
    Man doing tai chi
    Article
     
    hand gripping green rubber ball
    Slideshow
    person walking with assistance
    Slideshow