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Some early evidence, mostly from animal studies, suggests topical cannabidiol (CBD) cream may help with arthritis, inflammation, and chronic pain. CBD creams are easy to apply, relatively affordable, and often quick to work.

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

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 inconsistent effects both locally and systemically. 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.
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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.

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

Best balm stick: Lazarus Naturals Relief + Recovery CBD Balm Stick

  • Price: $12–42
  • CBD type: full-spectrum
  • Potency: 800–3,600 milligrams (mg) of CBD
  • COA: available online

This balm contains moisturizing mango butter and beeswax, which may make it suitable for dry or irritated skin.

In addition to 800–3,600 mg of CBD per stick, it also includes mint to help soothe and cool the skin.

The product is third-party tested and certified free from heavy metals.

Best for a warming cream: CBDistillery CBD Isolate Warming Cream

With 300 mg of CBD per 1.7-ounce (oz) tube, this warming cream contains 2 mg of CBD per pump.

Rich in moisturizing ingredients such as shea butter, the product offers a subtle warming sensation to help ease muscle tension and soothe inflammation.

CBDistillery tests this product for potency, dangerous chemicals, and heavy metals.

Best for a high potency cream: CBDfx Muscle & Joint CBD Hemp Cream

  • Price: $79.99
  • CBD type: broad-spectrum
  • Potency: 1,000 mg of CBD
  • COA: available online

This high potency formula product offers 1,000 mg of CBD per 1.7-oz bottle.

It also contains caffeine and menthol to stimulate blood flow and provide a cooling sensation.

In addition, the added white willow bark may help soothe inflammation.

The product is vegan and certified cruelty- and solvent-free.

Best for people with allergies: Charlotte’s Web Moisturizing CBD Oil Cream

The company states this full-spectrum CBD cream can provide gentle skin care. It contains aloe vera, coconut oil, and oat extract to help soothe the skin.

Charlotte’s Web states this product is free from eight major allergens as well as fragrances, artificial colors or dyes, GMOs, sulfates, parabens, and gluten. However, it does contain coconut oil, so it is not suitable for those with a coconut allergy.

Additionally, this cream is suitable for vegans and is cruelty-free.

Best for post-workout soreness: Joy Organics CBD Cream

  • Price: $32.95
  • CBD type: broad-spectrum
  • Potency: 250 mg of CBD
  • COA: available online

This CBD cream uses broad-spectrum CBD that can help hydrate the skin and soothe aching joints. The company states the plant-based molecules in the cream support healthy skin and can provide relief for post-workout soreness.

This product does not contain any THC. The company does not test on animals. Additionally, Joy Organics states it uses a carbon-neutral shipping process.

Best for targeted relief: Receptra CBD Serious Relief Plus Arnica Cream

The company states this product can help manage swelling, reduce inflammation, and provide targeted pain relief to sore muscles. It includes arnica for extra pain relief.

Additional ingredients include vitamin E oil, shea butter, and coconut oil. The inclusion of coconut oil means this product is not suitable for people who have a coconut allergy.

Best for a roll-on: PlusCBD CBD Oil Roll-On

  • Price: $27.99–54.99
  • CBD type: full-spectrum
  • Potency: 200–500 mg of CBD
  • COA: available online

PlusCBD states this product can help reduce discomfort after exercise by soothing aching muscles and joints. The form of this product may mean it is simple for people to apply to affected areas.

Additional ingredients include menthol and camphor for a more instant soothing effect.

PlusCBD states this product does not contain pesticides, GMOs, gluten, sulfates, or parabens.

Best for a thicker lotion: 3Chi CBD Relief Cream

  • Price: $49.99
  • CBD type: broad-spectrum
  • Potency: 500 mg of CBD
  • COA: available online

3Chi states this product is thicker than other similar CBD lotions. The thicker lotion and higher concentration of CBD may provide longer lasting and faster relief from aching muscles and joints.

Additional ingredients include menthol, tea tree, camphor, and peppermint oil.

The company directs people to use this lotion on clean skin and massage it into the skin until it is fully absorbed. People should leave the skin uncovered for an hour after application.

Best for muscle relaxation: Level Select CBD Sports Cream

  • Price: $39.99
  • CBD type: broad-spectrum
  • Potency: 1,200 mg of CBD
  • COA: available online

Level Select states this cream is effective for daily use to promote muscle relaxation and relieve soreness. Its main ingredients are hemp extract and menthol to provide cooling relief.

The cream is available in concentrations of 900, 1,200, or 1,800 mg CBD per container.

Level Select recommends applying a thin layer of the cream to the affected area and reapplying or applying more as needed.

Best for daily use: Bluebird Botanicals Hemp CBD Sports Lotion

This lotion targets both aches and pains and dry and irritated skin. The hemp extract, arnica, ginger, wild mint, jojoba, and coconut oil provide warming and cooling relief and may help soothe irritated skin.

The company is certified cruelty-free and states this product does not contain any preservatives, sulfates, parabens, or phthalates.

Bluebird recommends massaging a dime-sized amount of lotion on the skin up to two times per day. For best results, the company says people should use this lotion daily.

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
Charlotte’s Web$19.99full-spectrum750 mgavailable online
Joy Organics$32.95broad-spectrum250 mgavailable online
Receptra$71.99full-spectrum800 mgavailable online
PlusCBD$27.99–54.99full-spectrum200–500 mgavailable online
3Chi$49.99broad-spectrum500 mgavailable online
Level Select$39.99broad-spectrum1,200 mgavailable online
Bluebird Botanicals$44.96full-spectrum700 mgavailable online

The cannabis plant contains many chemical compounds. One of these, THC, is the component known to cause the “high” when people consume it.

However, CBD, another major compound of the cannabis plant, does not induce this feeling. Many supporters and some researchers believe CBD may offer several health benefits.

Learn more about the differences and similarities between CBD and THC.

CBD is legal at the federal level but only in products where the concentration is less than 0.3% THC. In addition, different states have varying additional regulations. Some require a prescription, while others permit selling CBD as a supplement or even a beauty product.

A person should research the CBD regulations in their state.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved one CBD drug — Epidiolex — to treat certain types of seizures. However, the FDA has not granted approval for CBD cream for any purpose, including arthritis.

These creams combine CBD with a mixture of oils or butters. Companies that market these products for people with arthritis may include other topical ingredients that may relieve pain, such as capsaicin.

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 the results of independent testing 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, it is advisable to start with a lower dose and increase it if necessary.

Read our buyer’s guide to CBD.

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



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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.

Proper use of CBD cream depends on the product. Below are some general tips for use:

  • Follow the instructions on the label. Avoid using more than the recommended amount.
  • Try massaging the affected area while applying the cream to promote blood flow and ease tension.
  • For the most significant benefits, use CBD cream with prescribed treatments, such as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs.
  • It may be necessary to use CBD for several days to experience results.

CBD cream should not replace any medical treatment for arthritis unless a doctor recommends it as a main component of a person’s care.

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.

Below are answers to some common questions about CBD cream.

Can topical CBD help arthritis?

There is very limited reliable research confirming 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 not enough research to confirm which type of 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.

What kind of CBD cream is best for arthritis?

Scientific data on the effectiveness of CBD cream for arthritis is limited.

People may wish to choose a product with a lower amount of CBD and increase the dosage as necessary. Other considerations include the presence of THC, allergies or skin sensitivities, fragrances, and cost.

How long does it take for CBD pain cream to work?

The length of time it takes for CBD pain cream to work depends on the strength of the product, the other ingredients it contains, such as menthol, and the absorbency of the product.

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.

For more information and resources on CBD and CBD products, please visit our dedicated hub.

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