Arnica has become a popular salve to help reduce bruising and heal damaged skin. However, arnica can also help relieve pain in the hands that is connected with arthritis, muscles, or the joints. Arnica contains fatty acids and high levels of thymol, which are anti-inflammatory. Some studies have shown that arnica works best 2 or 3 days after a muscle strain, so it is good for chronic pain conditions. A study on how it can help people with osteoarthritis deal with pain showed that it was just as effective as ibuprofen. You can buy arnica as a cream, salve, tincture, ointment, and gel, as well as find topical lotions that have included it as an ingredient.