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Some early evidence suggests topical cannabidiol (CBD) cream may help with arthritis, inflammation, and chronic pain. The best CBD creams for arthritis are easy to apply, affordable, and quick to work.

The Arthritis Foundation states research on CBD for arthritis is promising but inconclusive. While several animal studies show potential, no well-designed trials prove CBD cream benefits people with this condition.

Recent research into the effects of CBD on arthritis in humans is limited. No research exists on the use of CBD cream specifically.

This article discusses the use of CBD cream to treat arthritis, its effectiveness, products to consider, and other natural remedies.

Is CBD legal?The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC federally legal. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3% THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them federally illegal but legal under some state laws. Be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.

The following products may be suitable for people with arthritis. A person should contact a doctor if they have concerns about using particular CBD products.

Please note the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

The following table compares the CBD products in this article on price, type, and more.

PriceCBD typeCBD potencyCOA
Lazarus Naturals$12–$42full-spectrum800–3,600 mgavailable online
CBDistillery$35CBD isolate500 mgavailable online
CBDfx$79.99broad-spectrum1,000 mgavailable online
Joy Organics$32.95broad-spectrum250 mgavailable online
Receptra$71.99full-spectrum800 mgavailable online
3Chi$49.99broad-spectrum500 mgavailable online
Level Select$39.99broad-spectrum1,200 mgavailable online
Bluebird Botanicals$44.96full-spectrum700 mgavailable online

Older research on CBD suggests its primary benefit is not as a numbing or pain relief agent. Instead, it helps reduce the inflammation that triggers arthritis pain. This means it may require long-term use for noticeable results to occur.

Another older study from 2000 involving mice with laboratory-induced arthritis found that oral CBD, as opposed to CBD cream, could reduce arthritis symptoms by targeting inflammatory chemicals.

More recent work from 2017 on rats with laboratory-induced knee osteoarthritis concluded that a 300-microgram dose of topical CBD reduced joint inflammation in the early stages of the disease. The authors concluded that topical CBD may be a safe product for treating osteoarthritis pain as it can block the inflammation that causes the disease to progress.

While some research assesses CBD in humans, none has looked specifically at CBD cream.

Additionally, researchers summarizing the application methods of CBD products stated that topical CBD can have locally and systemically inconsistent effects. This is because the formulas can vary and contain a range of additives.

Many similar studies use CBD alongside other derivatives of cannabis, so it is uncertain whether any apparent benefits come from cannabis, from other cannabis derivatives, such as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), or CBD alone.

Medical News Today’s methodology

Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria, where possible:

  • Ingredients: Products contain safe, high quality ingredients, and their labels state all ingredients clearly. They also confirm they are free from pesticides, heavy metals, and mold.
  • Dosage: Products clearly state the CBD dosage.
  • Serving size: Manufacturers need to suggest a safe serving size.
  • Third-party laboratories: Products undergo third-party testing for contaminants by an ISO 17025-compliant laboratory.
  • Available certificate of analysis (COA): The company demonstrates transparency and shares a product’s COA following receipt of its third-party laboratory results.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

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The following are some advantages and disadvantages of using CBD cream for arthritis:



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People may wish to consider some of the following factors when shopping for CBD cream:

  • Independent testing: Products undergo testing by an independent laboratory.
  • COA: Products have a COA, which details independent testing results to ensure the product contains what is on the label.
  • Clear labeling: Products list the amount of CBD in each dose.
  • Dosage: People should ensure they purchase a product with the correct amount of CBD for their requirements. For example, starting with a lower dose and increasing it if necessary is advisable.

Read our buyer’s guide to CBD.

CBD use is becoming more and more common in the United States. According to a 2020 Consumer Reports survey, one-third of U.S. adults have used CBD in the past 2 years, with some using it to self-medicate health conditions.

However, CBD products are not a replacement for the medication people with arthritis may need to take for their condition.

People should always discuss using CBD products with a healthcare professional to ensure the product will not interact with any existing prescription and nonprescription medication or health conditions.

At moderate doses, CBD is safe for most people and should not cause serious side effects. However, like all medications, the substance may interact with other drugs and trigger adverse effects, including some serious ones.

Common side effects include:

CBD may also interact with other sedating substances, such as alcohol and opioids. Experts have not identified all drug interactions, so it is best to consult a healthcare professional before using CBD alongside other medications.

Similar to other drugs, CBD may cause an allergic reaction, particularly in people with tree or nut allergies.

It is also of note that researchers cannot confirm the long-term effects of using CBD.

People who wish to try natural remedies for arthritis have several options beyond CBD, including:

  • Stress management and mind-body techniques: Research supporting the effectiveness of these remedies is not conclusive, but mind-body techniques, such as meditation, are generally safe.
  • Exercise: Taking part in physical activity can:
    • prevent damage to surrounding muscles
    • promote blood flow to the affected area
    • help a person maintain a moderate body weight
  • Dietary supplements: Emerging research suggests some supplements may help arthritis. However, they can interact with other drugs and cause serious side effects, so consult a doctor before trying them. These supplements include:
  • Alternative medicine: Some people may find relief with:

Learn more about effective home remedies for arthritis.

People who wish to use CBD products for arthritis but prefer not to use creams could try other forms, such as oils or edibles.

Learn about using CBD oil for treating arthritis.

CBD resources

Visit our dedicated hub for more research-backed information and in-depth resources on CBD.

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Below are answers to some common questions about CBD cream.

Does CBD topical cream help arthritis?

Very limited reliable research confirms that topical CBD is effective for arthritis. Most studies involve animal studies, which may not produce results applicable to humans.

However, some of these animal studies have found that topical CBD can reduce the inflammation and pain associated with osteoarthritis.

How does CBD cream work for arthritis?

Although there are many anecdotal reports of people using CBD cream for arthritis, more research is necessary to confirm these claims.

Studies with mice have shown that CBD may help reduce arthritis pain by limiting the inflammatory response. A study on rats with osteoarthritis also made this conclusion.

How often should I use CBD cream for arthritis?

People should always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when using any CBD product. It is also advisable to start at a lower dose and increase it if necessary, rather than starting with a higher dose of CBD.

When using topical products, a person should perform a patch test on a small area of the skin to ensure the product will not cause irritation. If the product does not irritate the skin, they can then apply it as needed.

What are the side effects of CBD ointment?

Although there is no link between moderate use of CBD ointment and serious safety concerns, there are several potential side effects.

According to the FDA, the risks of using CBD include the following:

  • liver damage
  • potentially harmful interactions with prescription and over-the-counter drugs
  • increased drowsiness when used at the same time as alcohol and antianxiety and sleep medications
  • diarrhea
  • loss of appetite
  • drowsiness

Does CBD work for pain?

There is limited scientific data available to show that CBD is effective for pain relief, but early results are promising.

Anecdotal reports say CBD can help reduce arthritic pain.

Which type of CBD is best for arthritis pain?

There is insufficient research to confirm which CBD is best for arthritis pain. Full-spectrum CBD contains all of the compounds in the cannabis plant, so it may have more potent effects. However, people should speak with a doctor if they want to try CBD for arthritis.

CBD may help relieve arthritis inflammation, although further research is necessary. CBD cream is a possible option for people who wish to try a natural remedy for joint pain.

However, every case of arthritis is different. What works well for one person might not be effective for others. A person can consult a qualified healthcare professional to find a suitable combination of natural and medical remedies for arthritis relief.