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What's the Best CBD Cream for Arthritis Pain?

If you want to try a CBD topical for pain, here are five options that can give you relief.
By Maggie Rossell
March 31, 2020

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Arthritis affects millions of Americans, and that may be why so many people are looking to CBD-based topicals as an alternative method of pain relief. If you could apply a plant-based lotion to feel less pain, why not give it a try? 

But the truth is, there are a lot-thousands-of CBD products on the market, which can make it tough to find the right option. To help you out, this article will look at the science behind the CBD-arthritis connection, plus identify where to find the best CBD products online. Consider this your smart, simple guide to buying CBD creams for arthritis pain relief. 

First, a heads up: CBD products are not regulated by the FDA, so you need to be skeptical. There's always a chance products can contain extra additives, or less or more CBD than the label says. However, all the CBD topical products included in this article have been vetted for safety and come from trusted brands in the CBD market. Each option is derived from industrial hemp grown in the U.S, includes less than 0.3 percent THC (as required by law), and has been tested by a third-party lab to ensure quality.

The 5 Best CBD Cream for Arthritis Pain

These are the top five hemp topicals-including creams, rubs, and roll-ons-to help arthritis pain, so you can feel a little better and focus on living your best life.

Before identifying the particulars of these products below, here's some background on arthritis and CBD-and why a topical might help.

CBD and Arthritis Pain 

As a refresher, arthritis is inflammation of joints or tissue around the joints, which often causes pain and stiffness, according to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC). Each of the more than 100 types of arthritis affects the body in a different way. Arthritis symptoms include aching joints, stiffness, swelling, difficulty moving, and reduced flexibility-but the most common symptom is chronic pain. 

Plus, it's more common than you may think. A whopping one in four Americans-that's roughly 54 million people-suffer from arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Considering the high prevalence of this disease, it's not surprising that arthritis is the top cause of long term disability in the US.

So where does CBD come into play?

Cannabidiol, more commonly referred to as CBD, is one of hundreds of constituents found in the cannabis plant. These chemicals are collectively known as cannabinoids or phytocannabinoids. THC (found abundantly in marijuana) is also among those. THC and CBD differ in that CBD cannot get you high, but they're similar in that CBD has potential therapeutic and pain relief benefits-which is why it's being incorporated into a variety of products, particularly for people with arthritis.

While clinical evidence specific to CBD topicals and arthritic pain are lacking, a number of studies do support the role of CBD in pain modulation. 

First, CBD has been shown to absorb into skin, making it ideal for topical therapy. Next, in a 2020 survey, 21 percent of patients who used CBD said they felt it helped with their illness, including pain reduction. In another self-reported study, the overwhelming majority of users of CBD found that it shared similar efficacy, but with fewer side effects, compared to opioid-based pain medications for chronic pain.

Our Picks for Best CBD Creams

Continue reading to learn more about how to select the CBD cream that is right for your needs and learn how to use CBD creams.

Best Cooling Relief: Medterra CBD Rapid Cooling Cream

This THC-free topical cream from Medterra has a rapid cooling effect on joints and muscles that makes it ideal for quick pain relief.

  • Strength: It comes in a 3.4-ounce bottle with the option of either 250 or 750 milligrams of CBD hemp extract.
  • Product: This rub-on cream combines CBD isolate with plant-based ingredients, including menthol and arnica, for powerful relief. The formula also includes sunflower seed oil and aloe to help moisturize skin.
  • Customer review: "I literally never leave on a trip without my rapid cooling cream...this stuff has saved my back and shoulders during long days working and playing outdoors."
Best Cooling Relief
Medterra Rapid Cooling Cream

Strongest Option: Spruce Full Spectrum Topical CBD Cream

Spruce produces one of the best CBD creams out there in the form of full-spectrum, lab-grade CBD from U.S.-derived hemp. Plus, this family-owned company is super transparent about farming and extraction methods. Spruce sources all of its hemp from two family farms and focuses on making small, high-quality batches. Plus, you'll get a 15 percent discount on your order if you sign up for a monthly subscription.  

  • Strength: The cream contains 300 mg CBD per every two-ounce tub
  • Product: This full-spectrum CBD cream is designed to absorb quickly for speedy results. While CBD is the main event, all-natural plant-derived scents make the topical experience that much more pleasant.  
  • Customer review: "Topical CBD Cream out performs any other OTC cream I have tried for arthritic pain. I would not only recommend the product, I also recommend Spruce CBD. They delivered a well packaged product on time with excellent communication along the way. 5 stars for both the product and customer service from Spruce!"
Strongest Option
Spruce Full Spectrum Topical CBD Cream

Best Full Spectrum: FAB CBD Salve Roll-On

This topical roll-on salve from FAB CBD features a heating and cooling effect, as well as several beneficial plant botanicals, and full-spectrum hemp extract for soothing relief. Additionally, the easy-to-use rub-on applicator is perfect for a painless application experience and makes this high-strength CBD salve ideal for on-the-go travel.

  • Strength: 1,000 and 3,000 milligram options are available.
  • Product: This CBD-infused topical is derived from U.S. hemp and delivers both cooling and warming sensations. Compact enough to throw in your bag and bring on the go, this roll-on salve is non-greasy and ideal for muscle aches and joint pain. 
  • Customer review: "Great new product. Goes on smoothly with no mess on hands. Lasts a long time after bedtime. Love it! Just ordered more."
Best Full-Spectrum
FAB CBD Salve Roll-On

Best for Recovery: Seabedee Muscle and Joint Relief Cream

A trusted CBD brand known for quality and transparency, Seabedee makes all of its products in the U.S. What's more, this topical cream is full-spectrum, which means it includes a diverse array of cannabinoids from high-quality hemp plants. 

  • Strength: This muscle cream contains 500 milligrams of CBD in a 3-ounce bottle
  • Product: The Seabedee topical cream is designed to promote fast-acting pain relief.  In addition to full-spectrum CBD extract, the product is formulated with shea butter and essential oils to nourish skin while alleviating muscle soreness and aching joints
  • Customer review: "I've tried several other CBD creams before landing on Seabedee, and I absolutely love this topical! It's light and goes on easily, and it's really helped soothe my muscles after working out. Plus I love the scent!"
Best for Recovery
Seabedee Muscle and Joint Relief Cream

Best Everyday Use: Naternal Rescue CBD Muscle Cream

If you're looking for a CBD cream that effortlessly absorbs into the skin, Naternal's topicals fit the bill with their smooth, non-greasy texture. This cream also provides a cooling sensation that's intended to help with muscle recovery while providing pain relief.

  • Strength: You can choose between 1,000 milligrams or 2,000 milligrams of CBD per 3.4 ounce bottle
  • Product:  In addition to full-spectrum CBD that's sourced from hemp plants grown on North Carolina soil, this muscle cream includes other natural pain-relieving ingredients like menthol, camphor, eucalyptus, and arnica
  • Customer review: "I love Naternal because it works. My knees get really sore from sitting cross-legged at my desk, and I feel it in the evenings when I stretch out. I rubbed this cream onto my knees and the pain actually subsided. It's amazing! It also smells minty, has a cooling effect and feels nice. Would definitely recommend!"
Best Everyday Use
Naternal Rescue CBD Muscle Cream

What to Look for In a CBD Cream

It can be overwhelming to wade through the options, especially when all you want is relief. So to make it easier, consider the following criteria in your search for the best CBD creams for arthritis pain.

  • Quality: No surprise here-quality is first and foremost. To ensure you're getting a high-quality CBD product, check out the certificate of analysis (CoA). This is a record of independent, third-party lab test results for each batch of product made. If a brand doesn't readily publish CoAs, shop elsewhere.
  • Source of hemp: Industrial hemp grown in the U.S. is regulated by domestic laws and is your best bet. 
  • Extraction method: There is ongoing debate regarding the best extraction method for CBD, but the main thing here is transparency. Make sure the brand you're buying is clear about how they make their product.  
  • Brand reputation: A brand with plenty of reviews, a helpful customer support team, and an informative website are good boxes to check.
  • Potency: For topicals, potency will be determined by the total cannabinoids or CBD milligrams listed on the label, typically listed for the total ounces of the hemp topical. Make sure the potency matches the CoA.
  • Product type: When choosing a product, you'll need to decide which type of CBD is right for you. 
    • CBD isolate is pure CBD, meaning the CBD has been extracted from the plant, while all other plant constituents (like THC) have been removed. 
    • Full spectrum means it contains whole plant extract, cannabinoids (including up to 0.3 percent THC), terpenes, flavonoids, and essential fatty acids.
    • Broad spectrum is full-spectrum, minus THC. 
  • Bonus features: Organic hemp and a clean label (more natural ingredients) are other features you may want to consider.
  • Price and budget: Hemp topicals can be pricey, so you'll want to find products that fit into your budget. Just be sure that a cheaper price doesn't mean you're losing quality or efficacy.

How to Use CBD Creams

CBD lotions, creams, salves, rubs, and roll-ons are common among hemp topicals and are designed to be absorbed into the skin. All you have to do is massage a small amount into the affected areas, and keep in mind, a little goes a long way. 

A quick note about safety: If you're using moderate doses of a quality CBD cream, like the products listed here, there are no serious safety concerns. Because it's topical rather than oral CBD, and there are only trace amounts of THC (less than 0.3 percent), adverse reactions are extremely uncommon. However, you should always consult with your doctor before incorporating CBD (or any non-regulated supplement) into your routine, or before increasing the dose or frequency of application.

About the Author

Maggie Rossell is a certified herbalist, world traveler, and devoted writer. She loves to explore plants and the human experience--and how the two interweave both physiologically and culturally. Her mission is to spark curiosity and inspiration in readers.

Ashley Jordan Ferira, PhD, RDN is a medical advisor at Remedy Review. Dr. Ferira is a nutrition expert, writer, editor, and educator in the health and wellness sector. Her experiences span nutrition product development, medical affairs, communications, and corporate wellness. Ashley completed her bachelor's degree at the University of Pennsylvania and PhD in Foods & Nutrition at The University of Georgia, where she researched the role of vitamin D in pediatric cardiometabolic disease. Dr. Ferira is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and has served in leadership roles across local and statewide dietetics, academic, industry, and nonprofit sectors.