Chronic pain has become a significantly prevalent issue today. With all the sitting and standing at work, not to forget the long hours, more and more people are experiencing related conditions at such a young age. When actionable steps aren’t taken towards recovery, the effects are highly likely to accumulate well into our later years. The latter isn’t just physically, but also mentally, leading to complete exhaustion and frustration. Although many solutions have come and gone, the innovative and helpful ones remain the go-to for most people. One such example is that of pain relief patches.
Pain relief patches are straightforward; they offer targeted relief by simply peeling off the adhesive end and placing the patch on the pain source. Aside from uses, which are mess-free, accessibility is at an all-time high. Matter-of-factly, one quick search on Google will result in several pages of products. To avoid any further stress and/or confusion, our editorial team decided to help narrow down the list to a handful of valuable pain relief patches. By process of elimination based on our team’s ranking criteria and popularity, we discovered 16 brands worth further investigating.
This comprehensive guide intends to introduce the supposed solutions and the process that helped simplify the list, company standards, the scientific perspective, and much more.
16 Of the Most Popular Pain Relief Patches for 2021
As mentioned earlier, the bulk of our picks were selected based on a customizable ranking criterion created by our team. However, given that products in demand due to popularity tend to attract consumers equally, we also considered them to see if they indeed hold value. On that note, here are the long-awaited options of 2021:
Ultra-Strength Pain Relief Patch
- Company: Bengay
- Starting Price: $9.49
Doctor-recommended OTC brand, Bengay’s Ultra-Strength Pain Relief Patch allegedly provides concentrated, deep, and penetrating heat that targets the primary source of pain. The heating approach is believed to induce flexibility and mobility within the muscles and joints. Regarding the star of this patch, it is none other than menthol 5%, known to treat minor aches and pains.
One source  explained that this ingredient works by alternating between cool and warm sensations to prevent consumers from focusing on the pain while it is tended to. After further reviewing the product, one common issue reported by consumers is the difficulty in applying the patch, which loses integrity once the backing is removed. Hence, we advise people to get someone to help if the pain source is at a hard-to-reach part of the body.
Pain Relief Patch
- Company: Biofreeze
- Starting Price: $9
Biofreeze prides itself in delivering menthol-based formulas that immediately alleviate pain. Based on the claims made, all their products have undergone clinical testing to confirm that they not only provide relief but do so at twice the rate of the leading brand. Speaking of effectiveness, the Biofreeze Pain Relief Patch has the potential to stimulate our receptors to block pain signals preventing one from fully recovering.
This, of course, is mainly through menthol, as it stimulates cold receptors to achieve relief and eventually alternates between producing heat. That said, several factors drew us closer to this brand, some of which include health experts’ recommendations, ability to provide 8 hours of support, large sizes for complete targeting, mess-free application, and ingredients testing that confirmed the lack of NSAIDs, parabens, and propylene glycol.
CBD Infused Patch
- Company: Social CBD
- Starting Price: $7.99
Social CBD’s CBD Infused Patch contains significant doses slowly released for a sustainable source of pain relief. Matter-of-factly, the team affirms that their take on pain patches provides over 24 hours of support. All patches (20mg, 60mg, or 100mg) are said to contain pure CBD isolate with 0% THC. Above all, third-party testing has been conducted to ensure that the extracted CBD is absent of harmful levels of heavy metals, pesticides, solvents, and microbial.
To ensure that consumers are confident in the product they are receiving, a QR code has been made available on the official website. When scanned, individuals can review the CBD test results. On a mission to create happier and healthier people, Social CBD is stuck by CBD because of its anti-inflammatory properties, proven to tend to chronic pain.
CBD Relief Wraps
- Company: Envy CBD
- Starting Price: $58.98
Another CBD-infused pain relief support system has been developed, and it’s by Envy CBD. With 150mg of CBD per 3-pack (or 50mg/wrap), the team insists that this solution requires 30 minutes before feeling a difference in pain levels. Besides CBD as an active ingredient, other natural herbs and plants have been included, giving the Envy CBD Relief Wraps a competitive advantage.
To be more specific, each patch encompasses Centella Asiatica Extract (increases collagen production and improved blood circulation), Polygonum Cuspidatum Root Extract (decreases oxidative stress and inflammation), and Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract (carries antibacterial, anti-allergic, and anti-inflammatory properties). On that note, this brand’s solution is the most expensive thus far, but we gather that the reason for this is the concentration, which is also the highest per patch so far.
- Company: FeelZing
- Starting Price: $14
The FeelZing Energy Patch is the first-ever wearable neurostimulation patch that has been designed to improve energy and focus. This stand-alone product is founded on lab equipment but without complicated wiring. Its function can potentially shift individuals from a stressed state to a calm, energized state. Aside from inducing mental clarity, it can also go as far as relieving pain by eliciting communication between our neurons.
Unlike most patches that made the cut, the FeelZing Energy Patch interacts with the brain, and for this reason, it shouldn’t be applied onto the primary pain source but instead right behind the ear. Finally, the team at FeelZing conducted a double-blinded placebo-controlled study to find that 84% of users experienced increased energy levels, and 90% reported heightened mental clarity.
Broad Spectrum Nano CBD Patch
- Company: Grown Science
- Starting Price: $18.99
The Grown Science Broad Spectrum Nano CBD Patch is a reusable CBD patch that combines the effects of hydrogel and nano CBD to provide efficient results while equally emphasizing the delivery system. Presently, the team recommends applying the patch directly onto the pain source so that the embedded CBD bypasses the digestive system and gets completely absorbed into the bloodstream. How did this team manage to make CBD bioavailability? It’s all thanks to nanotechnology, where CBD molecules are reduced to small sizes so that they can penetrate the blood-brain barrier of our cells.
One significant unique aspect of this patch is the choice of CBD, i.e., broad-spectrum. Broad-spectrum CBD brings together other cannabinoids and terpenes for a semi-entourage effect. Semi because this solution is free from THC, which is sure to please people who prefer the combination of cannabinoids without the risk of experiencing psychoactive properties. Undoubtedly, Grown Science is the only company that seems to have taken the hydrogel nanotechnology route.
- Company: Hemp Bombs
- Starting Price: $25
Hemp Bombs’ CBD Patches include not one but two ingredients. While one is evident in its name (i.e., CBD), the other is not. Primarily, each patch contains lidocaine and 50mg of premium CBD for soothing and cooling relief. Lidocaine is an anesthetic that causes the skin and surrounding tissues to lose the sense of feeling during the pain-relieving processes . It is important to note that lidocaine is known for its effectiveness over the short run, but it may wear off quickly.
Nonetheless, one source affirms that its ability to promote relief quickly stems from its numbing effect, which lasts five times longer than the average numbing solution . Fortunately, the addition of CBD is expected to compensate for lidocaine’s short-term effect. The Hemp Bombs team claims that each patch can be worn for up to 12 hours, and independent labs have tested all CBD extracts for safety, purity, and potency.
WiTENS Mini Pain Relief Patch
- Company: iReliev®
- Starting Price: $19.95
The mini wireless TENS unit is a pain relief device that has been designed to block our bodies’ pain signals. Positive results are deemed attainable because of its ability to deliver massage-like pulses that directly target pain. All that’s required of consumers is a press of a button and the final decision between 10 different intensity levels. For those struggling to wrap their heads around “the release of pulses,” this occurs because of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) therapy.
TENS therapy involves low-voltage electric currents to treat pain, which are usually delivered near the nerves. As briefly discussed above, TENS either blocks or changes consumers’ perception of pain . The latter is done to prevent consumers from focusing solely on pain, which gives rise to low productivity and motivation. As for safety, should any allergic reactions take form, this device needs to be halted immediately. Likewise, the skin may appear red and/or irritated, but this is trusted to fade with time. iReliev has been named to Inc. 500, and their TENS unit has been rated #1 for pain relief, two factors that stood out for us.
Pain Patch Relief
- Company: Kailo
- Starting Price: $99
The Kailo Pain Patch Relief is founded on a patented technology that uses nano capacitors to “turn off” the body’s pain signals. When correctly placed, the aforesaid switch will be turned off, leading to exponential decay in pain in a short time. What makes this patch ideal, like other similar solutions on our top picks, is that it is non-transdermal. In other words, the Kailo Pain Patch is chemicals- and medicine-free.
Above all, the team behind this solution affirms to have conducted a clinical trial, allowing them to conclude that Kailo can significantly reduce pain, increase the quality of life, and is less likely to elicit side effects. While $99 may seem like a lot, each purchase includes one reusable Kailo, three adhesives, and a free soft carrying case. Bulk purchases are usually advised, as it drastically slashes the per-unit cost.
- Company: Kaydia Wellness
- Starting Price: $49.99
A pain patch spread across society because of its popularity; the Kaydia Patch brings together the anti-inflammatory properties of five active painkillers and CBD. Like most pain relief patches, the Kaydia Patch needs to be placed on the root source of pain for optimal recovery. The idea of compounding ingredients of similar properties is not new. In all truth, it may further heighten results, but our editorial team is currently on the fence with this product because 1) we don’t know how much CBD is embedded per patch, and 2) the five painkillers have yet to be revealed. Without any information at all, it becomes a difficult task to assess its value for the price.
Pain Relief Patch
- Company: LUMINAS
- Starting Price: $39.99
The LUMINAS Pain Relief Patch has been developed using proprietary technology that ensures each patch is charged with the power of over 200 natural remedies known to reduce the most common causes for pain and inflammation. What might these natural remedies entail? So far, they have been listed as Arnica, B-Complex, Magnesium, Turmeric, BioPerine, Ginger, Vitamin D, and many others.
The charging technology should be highlighted here, seeing that it uses resonant carrier waves that capture electric field signatures of the natural remedies and imprints them into the LUMINAS wearable Mylar patch. According to the team, each patch can provide 24 hours of relief, three times longer than the average solution. In addition to introducing a new approach, the LUMINAS patches are the cheapest, costing individuals $1.67 per patch.
Pain Relief Patch
- Company: Melzu
- Starting Price: $22
The Melzu Pain Relief Patch is an all-natural approach to healing similar in some ways to LUMINAS, but still eccentric on its own. This solution has been founded on Japanese herbal ingredients such as Methyl Salicylate, Camphor, and Menthol. As for its uses, the patch needs to be applied on the soles of one’s feet overnight. Upon waking up, if the patch is dirty, it signifies that the body is free of toxins. The latter is known to cause inflammation and consequently protects consumers from experiencing chronic pain. While tradition stands by this approach, science is not entirely convinced. Many experts affirm that a dirty patch isn’t so much the removal of toxins but merely sweat. Hence, more research is needed on its uses.
Pain Relief Patch
- Company: Salonpas
- Starting Price: $9.83
We had to include a classic during our solution-seeking journey, and that is none other than Salonpas. The Salonpas Pain Relief Patch is the first FDA-approved, over-the-counter topical pain reliever that can provide temporary relief for a continuous period of 12 hours. Deemed best for mild to moderate pain, the patches can be worn for backaches, sore muscles, and sprains. The two main ingredients found per patch entail menthol 3% and methyl salicylate 10%, both of which promote healing while alternating between cool and heat sensations to redirect one’s focus elsewhere. Not all patches work for everyone, and if Salonpas’ take leads to rashes and/or an allergic reaction, it should be halted immediately.
Signal Relief Pain Patch
- Company: Signal Relief
- Starting Price: $169
The Signal Relief Pain Patch is a palm-sized patch that has been integrated within several microscopic antennas. The idea for this concept of using antennas is as follows: The body has an electrical current running through it. When injured, the body signals its pain to the brain; however, this can be disrupted. In other words, Signal Relief aims to find a way to prevent that signal from making its way to the brain, which in turn would stimulate healing. As for the antennas, these are nano-capacitive arrays (NCC) that do the disrupting.
Regarding uses, individuals are asked to find the source of pain and to place the patch on the exact spot. This can include headaches and shoulder, back, knee, hand and wrist, hand foot and ankle aches. Finally, we have a price as a factor, which is the highest here. Aside from the technology used, each Signal Relief patch is deemed reusable, only requiring adhesives. Here are a couple of words from the Rexburg, Idaho-based team, “We hope that everyone that touches our brand has a radical, comforting, and inspiring experience! Everything we do as a team is designed to help better your life and the life of your family!”
StaminaPRO Active Recovery Patch
- Company: StaminaPRO
- Starting Price: $24.99
The StaminaPRO Active Recovery Patch is founded on Energy Medicine Technology, i.e., a methodology that stems from quantum physics. Very similar to LUMINAS, this patch allegedly uses signatures of over 200 different natural remedies known for healing, some of which include amino acids, turmeric, and omega-3 fatty acids. The team further explained that the aforesaid signatures are carried by a resonant wave and put onto a patch. Upon application, the electrons become activated and are left to work with the body’s natural response to inflammation to maximize healing.
To show consumers how effective the StaminaPRO Active Recovery Patch is, a clinical study was conducted. In the end, 90% of patients reported pain reduction on the VAS Pain Scale, where the pain score went from an average of 7 to an average of 4 within the first 45 minutes. Moreover, inflammation was assessed by looking closely at skin temperature scans. After applying the patch, the team noticed strong, visible changes in skin temperature, indicating reduced inflammation. Although StaminaPRO was initially conceptualized with athletes and fitness fanatics in mind, this patch can serve as a solution for all.
- Company: The Good Patch
- Starting Price: $12.00
The Soothe Patch has been designed to provide temporary, targeted relief from minor aches and pains associated with backache, arthritis, strains, bruises, and sprains. In addition to menthol 5%, The Good Patch team decided to include capsaicin 0.25%, which we have yet to see up until this point. One source explained that capsaicin is usually included to decrease a natural substance in the body called substance P because it is known to help pass pain signals to the brain . As for its benefits, it has an 8-to-12-hour release capacity, it is perfectly discrete, application and uses are pretty straightforward, and obviously, the entirety of this patch is all-natural.
Here are a couple of words from the team who brought Soothe, “The Good Patch offers a variety of wellness products and patches for life’s common ailments. We use tried-and-true ingredients that are plant-based and third-party tested for purity and quality.” Finally, an admirable facet about this brand is that they offer payment plans. Rather than paying everything at once, individuals can choose to split the bill into two or four payments, all a week apart. To some extent, this might support people who are slightly financially unstable.
The Ranking Process: Factors that Need Reflection
The concept behind pain relief patches is quite interesting, but just about anyone can entire this space only to deliver ineffective products. Our editorial team assessed how many of the listed factors were checked off per product to avoid falling into decoys. The more boxes ticked off, the more comfortable we were with its uses and the claims surrounding it. Speaking of factors, these are some of the basic things to look out for:
If a company website only lists the product, we were hesitant to include them. Lack of transparency is least attractive to consumers as the product is left to be questioned about its effectiveness. Why should anyone else stand by it when the supposed company behind it doesn’t either. Such gaps in information also prevent consumers from understanding the company’s processes, measures are taken to optimize safety and effectiveness, and whether they’ve put the patches to the test via studies. In general, we decided if there were absolutely no way even to contact customer service, then the product wouldn’t make our list. How else can one attain the necessary clarifications?
As summarized above, many brands have taken the time to conduct clinical tests on their products. This is a necessary effort on behalf of a company because it gives consumers confidence that a solution could work. This is not something that everyone does, so we don’t expect all companies to abide by it, but having access to the study results and reading through them may boost one’s likelihood to make a purchase. Clinical studies are just one aspect of scientific evidence; another approach that we will be discussing next comes in the form of active ingredients.
Our editorial team felt we were repeating ourselves quite a bit regarding active ingredients, but this is a good sign. Most of the listed ingredients have been proven as an excellent analgesic with anti-inflammatory properties, which we would need to promote relief. Some ingredients will have more substantial scientific evidence, while others may embody preliminary efforts. But once again, the existence of proof depicting an ingredient as being effective gives substance to the patches and hope that it can do as tasked.
Level of Support
Pain relief patches offer temporary relief, and this is a given. However, our main interest was to see whether the relief is provided within an 8-hour, 12-hour, or 24-hour period. Ideally, the more extended the healing capacity, the better, and we’ve noticed that our top picks can provide up to 12 hours of relief, while a few go slightly beyond that.
Ease of Use
Consumers tend to lean more towards pain patches than other topical solutions because the former is perceived as a convenient, mess-free, and easy-to-use alternative. Moreover, people who prefer to refrain from taking OTC drugs see a topical patch free from drugs as the safest bet. If these features are lacking, these patches are no different from any other solution.
During our search for the top pain relief patches of 2021, we stumbled upon a series of offerings where the website suggests a surge in demand and limited supplies. We noticed that the popularity of a product is a common factor considered among consumers. That said, this can either be good or bad. Starting with the good, if a product is deemed “popular” because it has been shown to work and people are raving about it, it makes sense. However, some providers insist on high demand and significantly reduced prices but neither mention the company responsible for it nor the complete ingredients list. Ultimately, when there are too many “why’s” left unanswered, popularity becomes meaningless.
Finally, with any solution, the possibility of it not working as suggested needs to be anticipated. This is another given point, as humans are generally unique in their health, allowing some solutions to shine and others to be overlooked. Money-back guarantees provide a safe space for consumers who want to give a product a try, but if dissatisfied, could request a refund. These are usually beneficial when bulk orders are placed because most companies only approve refunds on unused products.
Price as a factor was one of the last ones to have made our ranking criteria because price alone suggests nothing. Our goal was to find products that had potential, and the price was assessed at the end to confirm that accessibility still holds. Fortunately, most of our picks can be perceived as affordable, with some that hit the higher end of the scale. From our observation, the more advanced the patches became technologically, the higher the prices were, which is sensical.
The Scientific Viewpoint: Do Pain Relief Patches Work?
Now that we’ve covered our top picks along with our ranking criteria, it’s time we talk about the scientific viewpoint. To what extent are the benefits mentioned above and claims generalizable to the public? Are all types of people likely to experience similar results? Can we confirm that the selected ingredients do work? These are the types of questions that clinical studies allow researchers to provide answers to. Seeing the versatility in this respective market, it only made sense to review what the scientific community has discovered thus far.
A 2020 study that evaluated a topical analgesic pain-relieving patch to reduce pain severity in patients with mild to moderate arthritic, neurological, or musculoskeletal pain reported significant findings. Specifically, the researchers noticed a reduction in pain severity score and pain interference, adding that “90.8% [of patients] were very/delighted with the patch.” In the end, the team concluded that the selected pain-relieving patch, i.e., Salonpas, “can reduce BPI pain severity and interference scores in adult patients with mild to moderate arthritic, neurological, and musculoskeletal pain.”
Another 2020 interim analysis on pain-relief patches focused primarily on the use of nanotechnology. To be more precise, the team was curious to see whether patients with mild, moderate, and severe pain can attain relief using a novel, non-drug, and nanotechnology-based topical pain-relieving patch (i.e., Kailo Pain Patch).
Surveys were administered at the 14- and 30-day mark to evaluate changes/improvements. In the end, the mean BPI Severity score allegedly dropped by 71%, the mean BPI Inference score dropped by 67%, and no side effects were reported. This group concluded that patients with arthritic, neuropathic, and musculoskeletal pain could potentially attain pain relief using nanotechnology-based patches like Kailo.
A 2021 study interested in assessing the effect of lidocaine patch 5% on shoulder pain after laparoscopic cholecystectomy in 63 female patients also found patches to be effective. The researchers recorded pain scores (0 = no pain and 10 = the worst pain) at the 30 min, 6-hour, 24-hour, and 48-hour marks after surgery. By the end of the study, the researchers found that the severity of shoulder pain and the overall incidence of shoulder pain were significantly reduced in the patch group compared to the control group. This was more evident at the 24- and 48-hour marks.
Based on these three studies alone, we can affirm that patches using nanotechnology, lidocaine, and patches consisting of menthol and methyl salicylate are potentially effective at reducing pain. Furthermore, patience is key for desired results, so if the 8-hour mark doesn’t attain relief, individuals should give it another 4 to 16 hours before rating its usefulness. We are hopeful that consumers will do their own research on their preferred pain patch before placing an order.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)
Q: Who should use pain relief patches?
A: Anyone in need of pain relief can find comfort in pain relief patches. However, we cannot stress enough how temporary such a solution is. In other words, patches help suppress pain for 8 to 48 hours, depending on the brand. Sources of pain that are likely to be treated include headaches, backaches, sciatica, neck pain, migraines, and other mild chronic pain. That said, the allotted period of temporary relief should give individuals enough time to research permanent means, which usually starts by sitting down with a health professional.
Q: Do pain relief patches create dependencies?
A: No, pain relief patches are unlikely to create dependencies. They should be used safely, appropriately, and under a physician’s consent if chronic pain is medically treated.
Q: How long should a pain relief patch be worn?
A: On average, a pain relief patch should be worn anywhere between 8 and 12 hours, depending on what the patch could potentially achieve. We recommend that everyone reads over the instructions on the back of the box before applying a patch.
Q: Can multiple pain relief patches be worn at once?
A: It depends on the type of pain patch selected. Pain patches founded on Energy Medicine Therapy, for instance, might approve multiple patches at once. Other approaches may restrict consumers to just applying one patch at a time. In general, a patch can provide relief for an average of 12 hours; hence, there shouldn’t be any reason to apply several. Multiple patches may give rise to the reverse effect, possibly worsening the situation.
Q: When is it inappropriate to wear pain relief patches?
A: Each company typically has its own reasons for when pain relief patches are inappropriate. However, a consensus has been reached regarding not applying a patch on wounded or damaged skin, alongside a heating pad, when sweating excessively or if consumers are allergic to the listed ingredients. In some instances, pregnant women and children under 18 years of age are asked to avoid relief patches altogether.
Q: What is an NSAID?
A: NSAID stands for “non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug,” primarily indicated for symptomatic relief of conditions where the pain source is identified. This is a popularly prescribed medication that could treat arthritis symptoms and is perceived as more than just a pain reliever.
Q: Can children use pain relief patches?
A: It depends on the chosen brand. Some companies create their patches so that children over the age of 12 can use them, while others strictly forbid use by children. Should a child feel any pain, the best thing to do is consult a physician because pain relief patches are used as an extra measure to induce results, and no stretch is a cure.
Q: How long does it take to feel the pain relief patch?
A: Each person experiences discomfort at different severity levels, and hence, relief can either be attained within minutes or hours later. On average, consumers are likely to experience some form of relief within the first 30 to 45 minutes.
Q: Is it reasonable to split patches if the pain source is small?
A: No, regardless of how small the pain source may be, the patches should be used as a whole. They have been designed this way for a reason. Speaking of pain sources, size is not a significant factor because pain can be felt throughout the body even if it feels like it is restricted to one spot. Nonetheless, in cases where nano capacitors and other technological advancements have been considered, cutting a patch might lead to its dysfunction.
Top Pain Relief Patches Final Thoughts
Ultimately, pain relief patches work by halting pain signals that the body tries to communicate to the brain and spinal cord via nerve cells. Why are pain signals an issue? According to the claims made, chronic pain represents misfiring nerve cells, and consequently, defective pain signals that trigger the brain and pain.
Based on the analysis above, the concept of easing pain through patches has not only garnered a lot of attention. Still, it has motivated the scientific community to comment on its effectiveness. This is reassuring, seeing that there are many approaches to healing, and picking the right one can be difficult. Taking everything into account, our research should be used as a guide toward unraveling other effective ingredients and products.
This guide lays out the fundamentals of analyzing and comparing products with similar goals. We not only stopped at introducing and providing a brief on each pain-relief patch provider, but we went as far as creating a ranking criterion (which can be improved to one’s liking), considered the scientific approach, and provided general knowledge on pain relief patches. These are the reasons why most of the listed products that made our list are deemed top performers of 2021.
Sure, we threw a few substance-lacking products in our list, but this is done to show that not all products in high demand are made out to be as advertised. In general, if too many questions about a product are left unanswered, and further efforts go nowhere, it deserves to be overlooked for the sake of wellness. Until the next update on top-performing pain-relief patches, we hope that our editorial team succeeded in taking the weight of research off your shoulders to some extent.
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Please understand that any advice or guidelines revealed here are not even remotely a substitute for sound medical advice from a licensed healthcare provider. Make sure to consult with a professional physician before making any purchasing decision if you use medications or have concerns following the review details shared above. Individual results may vary as the statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.