Restoring Joint Health and Function to Reduce Pain (RE-JOIN)


The Research Need 

Most people with opioid use disorder cite joint pain as a contributing factor in their use of opioids. Many different tissues make up a joint, including bone, cartilage, synovia, joint capsules, ligaments, tendons, fascia, and muscle. Knowing more about the types and patterns of sensory neurons that connect to joints to create the sensation of pain, and how these neurons respond to joint tissue changes, will inform more precise ways to reduce joint pain, limit joint deterioration, and, ultimately, restore healthy joints. 

About the Program 

The Restoring Joint Health and Function to Reduce Pain (RE-JOIN) Consortium consists of research teams working together to map the network of sensory nerves that connect to two joints: the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and the knee. This research aims to understand how these types and patterns of sensory neuron networks in joints change with disease and aging.  

Supported by a Data Coordinating Group from the Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC) program, the RE-JOIN consortium will integrate data to generate models of sensory innervation of joints.  

Program Details

To date, through the Helping to End Addiction Long-term® Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative®, NIH has funded six awards for this program, totaling $31.1 million.

Research Examples

Research examples supported by this program include: 

  • Mapping the sensory innervation of the tissues and structures of various joints that lead to pain  

  • Identifying changes in sensory neurons that occur with tissue degradation, joint inflammation, and pain 

  • Elucidating aging-related changes in sensory neurons in joint tissues and their impact on pain-related outcomes

  • Baylor College of Medicine – Texas 
  • Duke University​ – North Carolina 
  • Rush University Medical Center​ – Illinois 
  • University of Florida ​– Florida 
  • University of Texas Health Science Center​ – Texas 

Funded Projects

Innervation of the Knee and TMJ 
Sep 14, 2022
Mapping the Joint-Nerve Interactome of the Knee
Sep 14, 2022
Neural Architecture of the Murine and Human Temporomandibular Joint
Sep 14, 2022
Comprehensive Functional Phenotyping of Trigeminal Neurons Innervating Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Tissues in Male, Female and Aged Mice, Primates, and Humans With and Without TMJ Disorders (TMJD)
Sep 14, 2022
Neuronal Anatomy, Connectivity, and Phenotypic Innervation of the Knee Joint
Sep 14, 2022

Closed Funding Opportunities

There are no Closed Funding Opportunities at this time.