Are any of the over-the-counter pain relief creams particularly effective?

Creams. Pain relief creams containing capsaicin seems to be effective after prolonged use on a daily basis.
Maybe. Patients may look to otc pain relief creams if they are unable to take certain medications by mouth, usually do to GI upset. Ultimately, the cause of the pain will determine which treatments will be effective. Muscle & joint pain will respond differently than neurological pain. Muscle & joint pain may respond to aspercreme or biofreeze. Neurological pain may respond to capsaicin cream.