The Best CBD Creams for Pain, According to Experts

Plus, important considerations when choosing and using CBD topicals.
By Janelle Lassalle
April 21, 2020
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
  • Spruce Full Spectrum Topical CBD Salve
  • Best Full Spectrum
    FAB CBD Topical CBD Cream
  • Best CBD Isolate Topical
    Medterra Rapid Cooling Cream
  • Best Cold Therapy
    cbdMD CBD Freeze Cold Therapy Pain Relief Roll-On
  • Best Broad Spectrum
    Green Roads Soothing CBD Topical Cream

Pain is a universal experience, one many people are all too familiar with. The search for pain relief is one reason why cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive herbal remedy, is quickly gaining popularity. But with so many options on the market it can be hard to find a quality product.  In this article, which has been medically reviewed by Ashley Jordan Ferira, PhD, RDN, Senior Editor of Health & Wellness Strategy at Remedy Review, an independent CBD reviews site, we’ll look at the best CBD creams for pain.

Our favorite topicals include soothing creams, a balm, salve, lotion, and a roll-on. All are made from US-grown hemp and have been independently tested by third-party labs for quality and safety purposes. Here they are:

Can CBD actually help with pain?

In 2016 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discovered that 20.4% of US adults—some 50 million Americans—were living with chronic pain. So how can CBD help these people feel better? 

Well, our bodies have a system that controls a lot of what we feel. The endocannabinoid system, or ECS, governs functions such as our body’s ability to process pain, as well as inflammation, mood, and sleep, to name a few. The hemp plant contains phytocannabinoids like CBD that interact with our ECS. This explains why hemp has therapeutic properties

CBD has been shown in clinical studies to help with pain-specific health conditions including chronic pain, peripheral neuropathy, pain and inflammation, osteoarthritis pain, and myofascial pain.

Cannabinoids can also help improve pain in patients receiving palliative care. A 2020 cross-sectional study found that nearly 25% of outpatient palliative care patients use CBD, with topical application being the most common form used.

What to look for in a CBD cream

These are some of the most important considerations when selecting most CBD products, including topicals like a CBD pain cream.

  • Quality control: A brand should display recent third-party lab testing results.
  • Hemp source: We recommend you buy brands that make products from US-grown hemp.
  • Extraction method: CO2 and ethanol extraction methods are considered robust.
  • Brand reputation: Check out brand reviews for specifics. Brand longevity and size can be relevant, but some newer, smaller brands are serious about quality, too.
  • Strength/potency: No clinical consensus exists yet to inform dosing. Depends on your personal needs and pain response. Hemp topical products vary in CBD milligrams per ounce.
  • Type of hemp extract: Full-spectrum (whole hemp plant extract, contains some THC); broad-spectrum extract (full spectrum of cannabinoids minus THC); CBD isolate (just CBD).

Our top 5 CBD creams for pain

Now that we’ve explored the background on CBD topicals and how they might aid in pain management, let’s dive into our top six product recommendations for the best CBD cream for pain.

Spruce has tight control and full visibility of its CBD product manufacturing process from the hemp farm to the shelf, and its hemp extracts are designed to deal with muscle pain. Its branding is also clean and minimalistic, making the facts easy to find.

This hemp cream is full-spectrum and contains other skin soothing ingredients like olive oil, shea butter, and coconut oil. The salve rubs in smoothly without leaving a shiny finish. 

Customer review: “Topical CBD cream out performs any other OTC cream I have tried for arthritic pain. I would not only recommend the product, I also recommend Spruce CBD. They delivered a well packaged product on time with excellent communication along the way. 5 stars for both the product and customer service from Spruce CBD!”

Strength: 1000 mg CBD in 0.87 oz. jar or 2000 mg CBD in 1.7 oz. jar 

To buy: 1000mg CBD Salve, $89;

FAB is devoted to providing people with the best quality CBD it can. All of FAB’s CBD products are made from hemp organically grown in Colorado. FAB is community-oriented and regularly collaborates with charity partners. We really like the addition of blood orange essential oil in this topical, which makes it smell great. It’s a strong product at this price point, too. 

Customer review: “How did I live without this? This product is fabulous. I can walk the stairs, take long walks now and I feel great.”

Strength: 600 mg of CBD in 2 oz. tub

To buy: 600mg CBD Cream, $49;


Medterra’s Rapid Cooling Cream expertly combines isolate CBD extract and organic ingredients to promote pain relief and joint support. This topical cream incorporates menthol and arnica to create a soothing, cooling sensation that lasts for hours, among other skin-benefiting ingredients like sunflower seed oil and aloe leaf juice. 

Each bottle is made with 99.6 percent pure CBD isolate, which means this cream is completely THC-free. Medterra is also full-lab tested and made in America, so you can trust that its products are of the highest quality.

Customer review: “I literally never leave on a trip without my 750mg rapid cooling cream...this stuff has saved my back and shoulders during long days working and playing outdoors.”

Strength: 250 mg or 750 mg of CBD in a 3.4 fl.oz. bottle 

To buy: 750mg Rapid Cooling Cream, $50;

cbdMD prides itself in selling high-quality hemp products. Its products are all THC-free, lab-tested, non-GMO, vegan, and broad-spectrum. This broad-spectrum topical ingredient list specifically calls out other cannabinoids present, including cannabinol (CBN) and cannabigerol (CBG).

The unique roll-on shape makes it easier than ever to apply to affected areas, especially the hard to reach ones. The sleek design also comes in a squeeze format (same price as roller), and both options can easily fit into any purse or gym bag. The hemp is broad-spectrum and is accompanied by vitamin E, menthol, and other plant bioactives from aloe vera, arnica, and yerba mate.

Customer review: “The CBD Freeze adds a little extra cooling effects, and we love it! My husband and I have been using it for months and can’t imagine going back to life without it.”

Strength: 300, 750, or 1500 mg CBD in a 3 oz. tube

To buy: 300mg CBD roll-on, $30;

Green Roads goes above and beyond when it comes to quality standards and transparency. It follows cGMPs for topical manufacturing, and its products are formulated by a licensed pharmacist, Laura Fuentes, who is the CEO and co-founder of Green Roads. 

This brand also believes in educating consumers about CBD. Every Green Roads product has a detailed third-party lab report available that breaks down cannabinoid and terpene content, as well as pesticide and heavy-metal testing.

Customer review: “I like everything about this product! In addition to tremendously helping my sore muscles and joint pain the product has a subtle fragrance and spreads very easily so I don’t have to use too much. I would highly recommend the use of this soothing cream.”

Strength: 350 mg of CBD in a 1 oz. pump

To buy: 350mg CBD Topical Cream, $45;

How to use CBD topicals

Since CBD topicals work on localized pain, the first step is to identify your problem area(s). You’ll then want to carefully clean and dry the area before applying a small amount of the topical on your skin to start.

Cannabinoids have low skin permeability, so you can dose up and apply more of the topical based on how you feel. Spend some time really working it into your skin, massaging gently as you go. 

Once you’ve finished applying, you can wash your hands and wait. Most topicals will take a few minutes before they kick in, but can peak one to two hours later. You may need to reapply a few times a day for full effect.

Do CBD topicals have side effects?

While CBD is safe for use, there are a few caveats you’ll want to keep in mind when incorporating a hemp topical into your pain-management regimen. 

  • Broken skin: Be sure you read the product label thoroughly as not all CBD topicals are designed to be used on broken skin.
  • Carrier oils: If you have sensitive skin, allergies, or your skin is prone to irritation, be sure to check the label to see what kind of carrier oil your product contains.
  • Facial application: Most CBD topicals formulated for pain relief are designed to be used on the body and not for facial application. Some brands will call this out explicitly. 
  • Herb-drug interactions: CBD is an herbal bioactive. It has potential interactions with drugs. Notify your doctor before using hemp topicals if you have any questions about how CBD may interact with any drugs you’re taking.

Topical takeaways

A CBD topical is any lotion, cream, salve, or skincare product infused with hemp-derived CBD. Hemp topicals are an herbal strategy to help with localized aches and pains. If you or your loved one are seeking the best CBD cream for pain, these high-quality options may help. But be sure to talk to a healthcare professional before changing your wellness routine.

This article has been medically reviewed by Ashley Jordan Ferira, PhD, RDN, the Senior Editor of Health & Wellness Strategy at Remedy Review, an independent CBD reviews site. Dr. Ferira completed her PhD in Foods & Nutrition at The University of Georgia, where she researched the role of vitamin D in pediatric cardiometabolic disease. The products featured in this article were tested at ProVerde Laboratories in Milford, MA and Avazyme, Inc. in Durham, NC.

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