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.
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 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