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CBD cream for pain may help relieve muscle aches and tension, although research is still ongoing. We have found and tried some of the best CBD creams for pain available to buy online.

CBD binds to molecules in the body, blocking some protein receptors and inhibiting certain enzymes and acids that play a role in pain and inflammation.

Researchers have found that certain compounds in the cannabis plant may have beneficial effects, including:

  • Alleviating pain: Studies show that in adults with neuropathic pain, cannabis-based medication may help achieve more than 50% pain relief compared with a placebo. An additional 2021 study shows that CBD may also be effective in reducing pain due to fibromyalgia.
  • Reducing spasms: A 2022 study suggests that a combination of CBD and THC may help reduce pain and muscle spasticity in people with multiple sclerosis (MS).
  • Relaxing muscles: The cannabis plant contains two anti-inflammatory agents, delta-limonene and beta-myrcene, that aid muscles in relaxing and may assist in enhancing muscle recovery after exercise. In a 2023 clinical trial, researchers gave athletes ages 18 to 65 years post-exercise 2 doses of a formula containing CBD, cannabigerol, beta-caryophyllene, branched-chain amino acids, and magnesium citrate. After 72 hours, the adults experienced less muscle discomfort, stiffness, and a higher range of muscle motion.
  • Reducing inflammation: Studies involving the administration of CBD in dogs, horses, and rats at different doses have shown positive effects as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. However, researchers need to conduct more human studies to support these findings.

Learn how other CBD products, such as CBD oils, lotions, and patches, may help with pain management.

CBD resources

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

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Medical News Today has tested some of the products below. Reviewers may have received some products from the manufacturers for free, which does not influence their review. All opinions are the reviewers’ own.

The following table compares the CBD creams in this article on CBD type, main features, and price.

CBD typeFeaturesPrice per milligram
CBDfxbroad-spectrumanti-inflammatory ingredients and cooling menthol$0.02 to $0.05
Level Selectbroad-spectrumanti-inflammatory ingredients and cooling menthol$0.03
R&Rfull-spectrummoisturizing agents, pain relief, and bruise-healing$0.03 to $0.06
PlusCBDfull-spectrumwarming camphor and cooling menthol$0.07
Soul CBDisolatecooling menthol$0.05

Medical News Today chooses CBD creams for pain that fit the following criteria:

We selected these CBD creams for pain based on criteria we think are good indicators of safety, quality, and transparency.

As a part of our vetting process, we consider:

  • the product’s composition, ingredients, and overall quality
  • any third-party certifications
  • the company’s reputation and business practices
  • any lab test results
  • marketing claims

We also look at the following factors:

  • Pain relief: Where possible, MNT selects CBD creams that brands recommend for managing pain.
  • Ingredients: MNT chooses creams containing safe, high quality, and clearly labeled ingredients. Brands should also confirm that the product is free from pesticides, heavy metals, and mold.
  • Dosage: MNT selects creams that clearly state the CBD dosage and THC content.
  • Serving size: MNT chooses CBD creams in which manufacturers recommend a dosage and how to use the product.
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People may wish to consider several factors before purchasing CBD cream for pain, such as:

  • Third-party tests: A person should only purchase CBD products from companies with COAs available for their products. These certificates verify that the products’ ingredient lists are correct and present in the amounts and potencies the company states.
  • Ingredients: Buyers should ensure the hemp in a CBD cream is natural and U.S.-grown. Sometimes, it is possible to get CBD creams containing certified organic hemp. Individuals with any allergies or sensitives should check the ingredients list to ensure all ingredients are suitable for them. Those with sensitive skin may wish to avoid creams that have fragrances or irritants known to them.
  • CBD spectrum: CBD creams for pain often contain full- or broad-spectrum CBD, but some products use CBD isolate. People should consider the THC content in full-spectrum CBD, especially if they have regular drug tests. Learn more about CBD spectrums to find out which may be best in a CBD cream for pain.
  • Potency: CBD potency refers to the strength of the product. CBD creams with more milligrams per application will be more potent than those with lower values. Those experiencing higher pain levels may appreciate a higher potency product, but CBD creams should not replace medical care to treat severe pain.
  • Ease of application: CBD creams for pain may not always be convenient to use, especially if a person wants to manage their pain on the go. Products in tubes may be easier to apply to specific areas, while creams in tubs may work for people using them over larger areas.

CBD creams are a good choice for people who want an easily portable product that provides targeted relief. As many creams contain cooling menthol or warming camphor, people will notice an almost immediate effect.

However, other CBD options include:

  • CBD oils and tinctures: These oral products come with droppers that make it easy to measure a dose. Oils are a good choice for overall wellness but may not be as effective for targeted relief. Oils and tinctures can have some of the highest amounts of CBD per dose.
  • CBD gummies: Like oils, these products can provide overall wellness. They are easily transportable, often have flavorings and sugar to help mask the taste of hemp, and come in a range of strengths.
  • Other CBD topicals: If creams are not suitable, many companies offer other topical products that contain CBD, such as bath bombs, face and foot masks, and more. These are good choices for people who do not need regular CBD and want to have it as part of their beauty and wellness routine.

As the inclusion of CBD into health products is a relatively recent development, there is a lack of scientific research examining its long-term risks. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved one CBD product, Epidiolex, a prescription medication for rare types of epilepsy. As such, no other CBD products are FDA approved — including CBD creams for pain.

People can apply CBD cream to their skin like any other topical product, but it is important to follow the instructions on the product packaging. Plus, a person should perform a patch test before using a new CBD cream on their skin. If they experience a reaction to the product, they should stop using it and contact a doctor. Reactions can include skin itching, redness, or inflammation.

Medication interactions

Anyone taking medicines and considering using a CBD cream should also consult a doctor or qualified CBD clinician. These professionals can advise whether CBD will interact with the medication.

CBDfx’s CBD cream for muscle and joints is one of the strongest over-the-counter creams available online. It is available in 1,000 and 3,000 mg and may help soothe aches and pains in deep-tissue joints. However, a cream this strong may not be suitable for people who are new to CBD.

Research from 2023 suggests that the use of CBD may help to manage chronic pain symptoms in adults. However, CBD products may help relieve pain temporarily rather than eliminate it.

Research from 2022 states that topical CBD may help to reduce inflammatory conditions, such as eczema. A 2019 paper suggests that CBD has anti-inflammatory benefits, making it potentially beneficial for reducing inflammation.

In some cases, CBD cream may cause skin irritation, including discoloration, itching, or a rash.

According to the FDA, some individuals can experience side effects from using CBD, including:

  • changes in alertness, including drowsiness or sleepiness
  • gastrointestinal distress, including diarrhea or decreased appetite
  • mood changes, including irritability or agitation

However, the FDA is referring to ingestible CBD products.

Topically applied CBD, including creams and ointments, do not enter the bloodstream.

The effective level of CBD for pain depends on the intensity and type of pain the person experiences. Therefore, there is no one-fits-all rule.

A 2022 review notes that the effectiveness of the CBD a person takes depends on its THC-to-CBD ratio. Researchers found that products with a higher THC-to-CBD ratio may be more effective at managing pain than products with a higher CBD-to-THC ratio.

CBD creams are products that a person applies to their skin. They may help reduce pain and inflammation.

Although CBD creams may provide some pain relief, people should seek guidance from a healthcare professional first to assess the underlying cause of their pain and receive medical treatment, if necessary.

People should also consult a qualified healthcare professional or pharmacist if they intend to use CBD products alongside prescription or nonprescription medications to reduce the risk of drug interactions and side effects.

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.