What does RA pain feel like?

I’m diagnosed with a couple autoimmune diseases, RA being one of them. Like most, pain is a big part of my days however it seems like I have several different kinds of pain requiring different pain treatment. For instance, opioids don’t really help the neuropathy pain. I’m wondering what you RA pain feels like. For instance, is it freezing pain, deep pain, squeezing, etc. At times I’m not even sure if it’s the small fiber neuropathy, bone pain, muscle pain, etc.


Community Answers
  • Richard Faust moderator
    11 months ago

    Hi Joanne. Sorry to hear that you are struggling and about the comorbidities. On top of the great information already posted, thought you might be interested in this article from one of our contributors looking at the nature of and some of the science of chronic pain: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/chronic-pain/. Hoping you get some relief and know you are always welcome here anytime for support and information. Best, Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • 2mra
    11 months ago

    Hello Joanne: Welcome but sorry that you are suffering.

    Yes, as Sneed mentioned, it is difficult sometimes to figure out what pains belong to what disease since some are different and some are the same or similar. The inflammation/pains get more frequent and in many different places as the years go by. Especially if RA/RD remission, is not achieved for a longer term.

    My pains have been deep and constant. Sometimes painfully achy. Extreme, if I hit a joint against something. Too many times through the years when I woke up in the morning and tried to get up, the pains were so unbearable, I’d just have to sit there and let the tears fall. The pains will affect muscles, ligaments and tendons.

    You mentioned a freezing pain. Is that the same as a burning pain? I’ve heard of others with RA/RD mention burning pain(including my sister) which I haven’t experienced with this disease(touch wood). The only time I had a burning pain was along with sharp pain and numbness when I had Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in my right hand due to RA/RD.

    You didn’t say how long ago that you were dxd. However long, I do hope that you find
    remission, more often then not.

  • Joanne S author
    11 months ago

    Thanks for your reply! Yes the freezing pain is similar to burning pain only the burning is burning HOT and the freezing is burning COLD. Try holding your hand under cold running water, doesn’t take long to be a burning cold. That’s the best way I can describe it.

    I’ve had small fiber neuropathy as far back as I can remember, roughly 3 years old. Diagnosed with Sogrens at about 35 and RA at about 47. I’m 50 now.

    Every day is a new day! Always looking for a new challenge and finding new things to keep myself busy.

  • Erin Rush moderator
    11 months ago

    Hi Joanne S! I am sorry you are dealing with pain from various autoimmune conditions, including RA. I do hope you get more feedback from community members, but RA pain can be very individual, as you probably well know. And the pain can occur in many parts of the body. In addition to any community answers you get, I wanted to share this information on RA pain with you — https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/symptoms/joints-pain/. I hope this helps and good luck getting some relief! Best, Erin, RheumatoidArthritis.net Team Member.

  • Sneed
    11 months ago

    It seems many if not most people with RA also have one or more additional autoimmune diseases. I’m one of them with palindromic rheumatism and polymyalgia rheumatica contributing their own misery. I see no way to distinguish between what one causes and what another does. Intense aching and sharp shooting pains here, there and everywhere pretty much describe what I experience, mostly but not entirely at night. It seems to me the bottom line for all such questions is that one’s immune system is misfiring and it really doesn’t matter much which label is applied to any incident. It’s all just an immune system screwup.

  • Joanne S author
    11 months ago

    Yes, our immune systems are messed up! Just curious how others describe their pain.
    Sometimes it’s hard to know what pain reliever will work best for which type of pain a person is having. If it’s nerve pain then oxycodone won’t help, if it’s RA pain, gabapentin isn’t what I’d want. So hard to know!

    Thanks for the reply.

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