Best Muscle Pain Relief Cream

back and neck cream - woman rubbing shoulder with cream

After a hard workout at the gym or a long day of putting in your time for the Man sitting behind a desk, nothing feels better in bringing relief to sore, cranky muscles than slapping on some soothing, pain-numbing sports cream. Instantly, you feel calmed by that cool feeling of menthol, and all the troubles of the day drift away.

More than likely, this scenario speaks to you in some way, considering over 76 million Americans deal with some sort of muscle or joint pain on a daily basis. That’s one in four people who complain of pain, whether it be occassional minor pains or chronic lifed-interfering pain.

However, with so many over-the-counter (OTC) topical pain relief creams or ointments to choose from, which one brings the best relief in a way that isn’t damaging to your body and your skin? Read on to make sure you have all the information you need to make the decision that’s best for you.

How Do Pain Creams Work?

Sports creams and other pain relief creams and ointments are topicals that are applied directly to the skin to help relieve muscle and joint pain temporarily. They relieve pain associated with:

  • arthritis
  • backache
  • muscle soreness
  • bursitis
  • tendonitis
  • fibromyalgia
  • cramps
  • sprains
  • strains


Many sports creams and other pain relief creams contain a combination of menthol and camphor. This combination causes an opening of the blood vessels called vasodilation. Vasodilation promotes increased blood flow, and when that rush of blood reaches a painful area, it works as a painkiller on the nerve-receptors in the affected area.

Additionally, the combination of menthol and camphor found in many sports creams work as a counterirritant. The sensation of cold immediately followed by a sensation of hot that these counterirritants create, the brain becomes confused when it is forced to feel both of these sensations at the same time. As a result, it blocks the sensations being sent by the nervous system, altogether, and the body does not feel the pain at all.

Similar…but different

As mentioned previous, there are a number of topical sports creams on the market to choose from, but not all of them work the same or are the best for your overall health. Here is a list of the most popular.


Biofreeze is a menthol-based sports cream whose main selling point is that it eases pain two times better than ice by creating such a cooling effect that it sends a signal to the brain to feel no pain. Many people use Biofreeze as their go-to for back pain, since that seems to be what it’s most effective in relieving, especially for long periods of time – up to five hours – which makes it ideal for hard laborers and those who punch in at the “Cube Farm” for eight hours a day.

Other big selling points include Biofreeze’s purported ability to help with recovery when applied before a workout. It’s also made up mostly of all-natural ingredients and is free of parabens, a big selling point for the health-conscious. It does contain some chemical ingredients that can prove harmful if used for prolonged periods of time, and it’s missing CBD oil, an all-natural ingredient proven to be an excellent skin-soothing agent.


For years, when you thought of a topical pain relief, Bengay likely came to mind. While Bengay has had a strong media presence throughout the years. It contains more menthol than BioFreeze and negligible amounts of camphor. Bengay’s main ingredient, however, is methyl salicylate, a pain reliever that is also found in aspirin.

Salicylates can be toxic, leading to salicylate intoxication if used with too much frequency, which is a legitimate concern since Bengay does not last very long and needs to be reapplied in order to feel relief.


IcyHot is a counterirritant that vollies between a cold sensation and then a hot sensation when applied to aching muscles. Like Bengay, it contains the combinations of menthol and camphor or menthol and methyl salicylate. As mentioned before, methyl salicylate lends to the potential for salicylate intoxication. Sports creams have also caused chemical burns ranging in severity, which is especially concerning if you use patches that can be left on the skin for hours at a time.

IcyHot does contain some natural ingredients like eucalyptus and menthol, but its ingredient list is largely unnatural, which can do more harm than good for your skin and your body.


CBDMEDIC’s Active Sport topicals and additional pain creams, ointment, and sticks use many of the same naturally-derived active ingredients like menthol and camphor as other OTC topical pain relief products, which penetrate deep into the muscles for cooling pain relief. However, where it differs is its proprietary blend of additional all-natural ingredients.

CBDMEDIC’s pain relief ointments, creams, and pain sticks use jojoba seed oil, beeswax, CBD hemp oil, emollients which have proven to aid in the absorption of ingredients like menthol and camphor and sooth the skin. Most importantly, they are natural or naturally-derived.

After all, what you put on your body is as important as what you put in your body. Treating your pain naturally gives your skin the added protection it needs.

With CBDMEDIC, you can rest easy when you slather some of the natural pain relief ointments, creams, massage oils, or pain sticks on your sore muscles, knowing you’re using naturally-derived, top-quality ingredients that work to treat the pain and your body well.


Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only. It has not been approved by the FDA to diagnose, treat, prevent, cure, or mitigate any diseases or conditions. We use CBD in our products for cosmetic purposes only.


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