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Community Thoughts: Increase in Other Sensitivities with RA Pain

Community Thoughts: Increase in Other Sensitivities with RA Pain

Recently our contributor Kelly wrote an interesting article about increased sensitivity on the days she has increased RA pain. Quite a few of our community members identified with her and shared with us the various kinds of sensitivities they experience when they are having a flare.
Take a look at the responses from the community and please feel free to add your own comments or thoughts!

Heightened sensitivity of other senses

A majority of the community members described experiencing sensitivity of other senses; sound, touch, smell, and light.

  • I don’t remember a time in my life I wasn’t touch, cold, & sound sensitive. Just the idea of someone rubbing my shoulders makes me cringe
  • I am super sensitive with all of my senses, but even more so when I have a high pain day. Things smell different, light sources are too bright, the lightest touch, or even perceived touch is excruciating
  • A light touch is too much
  • Touch and sound
  • The pain of migraine was always accompanied by sensitivity to sound, smell, touch and that is still part of RD pain
  • Some days the noise of the TV is better left off
  • My skin literally hurts to wear jeans most of the time!
  • Sensitive to smells and sounds. Didn’t realize it could be another symptom of RA
  • Sound, light, wearing clothes
  • When my pain level is high I am super sensitive to everything
  • I’m very sensitive to light and sounds and when I’m in a flare it is so much worse
  • I become incredibly sensitive to light and sound some days too
  • I do get sensitive to sounds – vacuum cleaner, leaf blower, power washers – anything that is a continuous sound. It doesn’t have to be particularly loud either
  • I am cold sensitive and do not shake hands as it hurts to do so
  • Sound aggravates me
  • My skin hurts!

Increased emotional sensitivity

A few also reported on an increase in emotional sensitivity and fluctuations in their mood.

  • I agree when pain level is high I’m more sensitive to other things, not so much touch ext. I’m irritable and really just want left alone
  • I am very emotional when my pain level is high. I get very teary at times. I just want to be left alone and go to bed until it’s over
  • Yes, I’ve been in pain for years but thought I was just being silly. Recently it lasted 3wks and I exploded shouting at everyone that was near me
  • I get super irritable and cranky during flare ups
  • I get edgy and want to hide out

More pain

Some of the community members described experiencing more pain apart from the symptoms when having a flare

  • I also deal with frequent headaches
  • I’m very sensitive to touches on my back and shoulders. I find them rough or heavy when they wouldn’t bother others
  • Yes, pain in muscle, we are all the same, glad to read this. I am not alone in this
  • You only have to lightly brush my elbows or knees and it feels like someone has hit with a hammer, very tender joints

Phantom sensations

A few of the community members also reported feeling inexplicable sensations when they were experiencing a flare, ranging from creepies and crawlies to phantom sensations in the limbs

  • I have RA, fibromyalgia and severe scoliosis with many disc problems. My pain management Dr. surgically implanted a spinal cord stimulator in my back and I am on Fentonol patches. The stimulator didn’t work as well as it should have because of the curves in my spine. What I experienced was a horrible sensation in my legs. I can’t sit or lay or I feel an incredible amount of agitation, nerve craziness, irritation inside my legs. I don’t really know how to describe it, but I would like to jump out of my skin, jump off a cliff or cut my legs off, so to speak. So I get up, try walking madly around, kicking my legs up, doing whatever
  • It’s weird but my feet are awful sensitive not painful hard to explain. I call it the creepy crawlies!

RA is a chronic condition with various different symptoms which can manifest differently for everyone. It can be very confusing to separate certain symptoms from specific RA symptoms. Therefore, while RA can be associated with a host of lesser known symptoms, it’s still important to discuss any new or unusual symptoms with your doctor to rule out other underlying causes.


  • Wyld Heart
    4 years ago

    I have developed terrible temperature fluctuations (and I’m surgically menopausal & take HRT) and have terrible tactile aversions also. RA is the nastiest of the chronic illnesses I cope with. This was a great article and helped me be a little less hard on myself- not realizing how much of my emotional stuff might be the RA ~ thanks for the great blog & community

  • Wyld Heart
    4 years ago

    and I have always had a super sniffer and my head and other parts of my body have always been sensitive to the slightest touch and I’ve been called unaffectionate due to this- who knew it was RA related? Fascinating. Glad I have this resource

  • ra1gfn
    4 years ago

    I have the kind of creepy crawlies in my legs mostly but I also am so crazy sound sensitive and I have an Autistic ADHD miracle child which makes it a challenge for sure. I used to think I was crazy for the sensitivity, it is wonderful to know that I am not alone and if I am crazy it is not because of my RA,lol!! Blessings to you all, and hang in there!

  • Lauren Tucker moderator
    4 years ago


    Thanks for your comment. You certainly are not alone and we are glad you are here! Thanks for your kind words, blessings to you too!

    Lauren (Community Manager

  • RHPass
    4 years ago

    I suffer with brain-numbing tinnitis, have for years. when my pain levels rise the constant hig-pitched screech in my head is more unbearable…..and pain meds are notorius for causing tinnitis!

  • Ketki Gupte
    4 years ago

    Hi RH Pass. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. So sorry that on top of living with RA you have to deal with the side-effects caused by the medications. Hang in there! And please let us know if we can answer any questions you may have. We are glad you are here and a part of this community. Take care! – Ketki

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