Topical Ointments and Other Treatments–Will They Work for You?


Joints are the human body’s suspension system. They let us move freely and cushion our movements. Imagine driving a car that had a horrible screech or squeal every time you drove over a bump.


Would you continue to drive the car and ignore the loud sounds or would you take your car to the mechanic to try and fix it? Pain in our joints is our body’s screech or squeal. It is a sign that something is not right. Pain in our joints is the warning that our suspension is breaking down.


Nearly 15 million Americans suffer from intense joint pain on a daily basis. Here we discuss how to handle the joint pain without swallowing pills. In addition, we will discuss all of the topical ointments, sprays, and patches on the market. From topical ointments to sprays, to knee patches for the pain we have a lot of ground to cover. Let’s get started!

Topical Joint Salves


In your local pharmacy, you will find an entire aisle dedicated to pain relief. There is everything from topical ointments to braces. All these choices can make things confusing. Choosing the right one for you can present a major set of challenges. What will work best for your pain?


Should you go with a couple different topical ointments? Will one do the trick? Here we will discuss the various ingredients you can find in over-the-counter topical ointments and what effect they will give your joint and knee pain.




The same ingredient found in chili peppers helps a lot with joint pain. It causes a burning sensation in your throat but on the skin, it actually confuses your nerves into not sending pain signals.


You need to use it a few times a day for a couple of weeks to really see the results. This makes topical ointments with capsaicin as the main ingredient a good choice if you have ongoing pain in your knees and joints like arthritis.


Whenever you use these topical ointments make sure to wash your hands really well after use. You may even want to use gloves during application so that you don’t accidentally get any in your eyes. Some popular brand names that include capsaicin are Capzasin and Zostrix.



If you find salicylates on the ingredient list that means it contains the same sorts of properties found in aspirin. Topical ointments like this block inflammation being caused by a specific set of fatty acid mediators called prostaglandins. Blocking these mediators also has a blood thinning effect. If you have an aspirin allergy or have been advised by your doctor to avoid aspirin for any reason you should avoid these creams as well.


You can also discuss your options with your doctor before deciding on a topical treatment. Popular brand names of topical ointments containing salicylates are Aspercreme and Bengay.




These types of topical ointments contain ingredients that trick your body into not feeling the pain in your joints by giving you another sensation to focus on. Ingredients like menthol or camphor cause a burning/cooling feeling when you rub it in which gives your nerves another irritation to focus on. While your skin focuses on the uncomfortable feeling of the cooling or burning you are distracted from your joints.


Popular name brand counterirritants are  Icy Hot  and Biofreeze.


Knee Joint Sprays


Sprays can be a great option when you have issues with mobility or reaching the pain. Using a spray for knee pain comes in handy when you can’t keep yourself bent over to rub in an ointment.


A spray would also work well for back pain you can’t reach. The majority of pain sprays are counterirritants. They work immediately on contact with the skin.


As we discussed earlier, counterirritants contain menthol or camphor to have an on contact cooling or burning feeling to distract your nerves from the pain.


Other ingredients to look for in sprays would be glucosamine and chondroitin and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) which, like their equivalent pill forms, can be absorbed through the skin and give you a longer lasting pain relief.


Glucosamine and Chondroitin


Ever told a friend that your knee is really bothering you? Chances are good they will suggest a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement to help. Why are glucosamine and chondroitin so good for joint pain that it’s become common knowledge?


Glucosamine is a natural ingredient that is found in healthy cartilage around your joints. As your cartilage wears down from overuse or injury, your levels of glucosamine drop with it. Taking a glucosamine supplement or using a topical solution including it can build your glucosamine levels back up to support the cartilage you have left.


Not only is it anti-inflammatory but in some studies, it has actually been shown to help with cartilage regeneration. Chondroitin is also a major ingredient of cartilage and works together with glucosamine to take care of your joints. When you combine the two you get the most effective cartilage boosting, anti-inflammatory response to help your arthritis, joint, and knee pain.


Methyl Sulfonylmethane (MSM)


This completely natural chemical found in plants has been found to be super effective for pain relief for joints and muscles. It has also been found to be able to help in the reversal of muscle damage if taken on a consistent daily basis. The combination of the immediate relief of the counterirritant and the continued work of these powerful anti-inflammatories work well together.


The best sprays we could find by average rating wereBiofreeze 360 Pain Relief Spray, and Lifetime BlocPain Spray.


Pain Relieving Knee Patches


Here in the US pain relieving knee patches or any sort of pain patch seems like a fairly new idea. However, in the eastern world, pain patches are nothing new and have been used for a long time to treat specific areas for pain. It makes a lot of sense that if you are having pain in your knee you could stick the medicine directly to the area with knee patches and get relief. Here we discuss the differences in prescription patches and those found over-the-counter.


Prescription Knee Patches


These were the first patches available in the US. You have to get them by prescription and they have heavier medications in them. The most popular pain relieving prescription knee patches are lidocaine patches. These have a dose of lidocaine built into them and you apply it directly to your joint.


Lidocaine is considered a local anesthetic because it dulls the nerves it’s applied to. So, instead of distracting the nerves, this medication stops them completely. The major downside to the heavy medicine of the prescription pain knee patches is a skin reaction to the medication.


It’s somewhat common to have a reaction to the localized medicine. So, watch out for redness or itchiness after using. Also, these types of patches come with the same sorts of risk for pain medication addiction that is associated with pills. It is recommended that you use these only as long as you have the pain and in exactly the way they are intended to avoid any issues.


Over the Counter Pain Relief Knee Patches


If you’re looking for something effective but don’t want to have to visit your doctor or are afraid of getting hooked on a medication, these over-the-counter solutions could work for you. Unlike topical ointments, patches have a concentrated amount of medicine that go specifically where you place the patch. They work immediately and don’t need to be re-applied often.


Salonpas Pain Relieving Patch


These patches contain some natural ingredients along with their primary ingredients of methyl salicylate and levomenthol. These ingredients dilate the blood vessels, relieve the pain, and have an anti-inflammatory effect afterward to keep the pain away. Since these ingredients are also counterirritants you feel some heating when you put it on which also distracts the nerves from the pain while the medication has a chance to work.





The most amazing benefit to this patch is it works using no chemicals at all! With completely natural ingredients, these knee patches encourage inflammation to go down and the reversal of all sorts of pain flare-ups.


The active ingredients are glycerin, silver, and elemental magnesium. Elemental magnesium and colloidal silver are some of the most powerful relaxation minerals that have been found. Magnesium can be used to treat a number of disorders that involve inflammation because it dilates blood vessels naturally and helps rebuild bone. You can get these ingredients through diet, but this patch has a concentrated dose of them that goes straight through the skin from the patch.


Tiger Balm Patch


Tiger balm has been used for a long time in the eastern world as a natural pain reliever. These knee patches have a combination of camphor and capsicum extract which provides the distraction and the heat which sends the signals away from the pain. While the smell may be off-putting at first, these patches are effective and don’t come with many precautions.


Natural Topical Remedies for Pain Relief


If the thought of medications turns you off completely there are natural ways to approach the problem as well. It’s pretty simple to make your own homemade topical ointments.


Cayenne Pepper


Don’t want to use a cream with capsaicin? Go right to the source. You can make your own natural ointment by mixing a couple tablespoons of high-quality cayenne pepper with a cup of olive oil and rubbing it into the skin. This will have a similar effect to the over-the-counter capsaicin creams you buy at the pharmacy.


Olive Oil


Speaking of olive oil, leave out the cayenne and you still have a great anti-inflammatory rub for your joints. Simply rub two to three tablespoons on the affected area for some natural relief.


Which is Best? Topical Ointments, Sprays, or Patches?


After learning about all the different types of pain relief out there for joint pain, how do you decide what’s best for you? This all comes down to what type of pain you are experiencing. You should always start with natural remedies first but, if those aren’t relieving your pain you have to look at other options.


Is it from a recent injury and you only need relief for a few days? Maybe a simple spray would be best. Do you have arthritis? Topical ointments with capsaicin may be best for its long term effects. If you are looking for a solution that means you won’t have to re-apply throughout the day and will stay on while you go about your day, knee patches could be your best bet. At the end of the day, the best solution is what works best for you and your pain.


Is It Safe To Use Topical Pain Relievers?


You need to pay attention to your body and the reaction you have to the ingredients in the medicine. You may experience some burning or stinging depending on the medicine you chose.


Specifically for knee patches, keep an eye out for irritation where you place the knee patches. This could be redness, itching, or swelling. Again, talk to your doctor before using topical ointments or any topical pain relief that contain aspirin-like ingredients to make sure they are safe for you.


Knee Pain Relief May Be Just a Patch, Spray or Rub Away


With all the types of medications on the market for pain relief, it all depends on your pain and how you want to deal with it. Make sure to read your labels to find out what ingredients are in the topical ointments, sprays, or patches you’re choosing. If you don’t know what will work for you, try a variety of the different types of pain relief.


Try one of each of the different major ingredients and a natural solution as well. This way you can determine which types of ingredients are most effective for your body, your joints, and your pain. If you reach a point where none of the over-the-counter or natural remedies are working for you, it could be time to see your orthopedic specialist.


As specialists in joint pain and injury, they will be able to diagnose the problem and help you find what will work best. If it turns out to be more of a long-term problem, they may give you a prescription for higher level pain relieving knee patches.


Specialists are also aware of the latest treatments for pain and healing, so they will have much more information for you and can give you the best course of action. They could suggest you try different types of knee braces for instance. They also may suggest you start a course of physical therapy treatments.


Products to Relieve Knee Discomfort Profiled Here


Last update on 2019-05-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API