Identifying novel therapeutic targets for chronic neck pain:
RNA-sequencing in human painful atlanto-axial arthropathy 

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Chronic (non-acute) neck pain is characterized as neck pain prevailing for more than 3 months. This condition is a common leading cause of disability and amasses enormous healthcare costs. The outcome of pharmacological prevention and treatment of chronic neck pain is unsatisfactory, and relies on opioids to mitigate the pain.  A diverse set of treatments exist in attempt to curtail the number of chronic neck pain cases; including but not limited to physical therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, medications, steroid injections, nerve ablations and surgery. However, many patients continue to suffer from daily pain and disability after treatment because the effects of treatment are modest at best. 

By identifying molecular pathways that drive chronic (non-acute) neck pain, the study can facilitate the discovery of target-specific therapeutics in the field of pharmacological (underlying concepts of how drugs work) research by identifying gene products as drug targets to reduce chronic pain.  

Participants of this study will consent to having a survey and 5 simple physical tests performed on them during their pre-operative visit. They also consent to having their tissues that are intended to be discarded during surgery collected by research coordinators. The collected diseased tissues that contribute to chronic neck pain are the dorsal root ganglion (DRG), facet joint capsules, facet joint cartilages and connective tissues. 

This study is geared towards better understanding the role diseased tissues have on molecular mechanisms promoting chronic neck pain as these processes are currently poorly understood. Advanced RNA sequencing methods are applied to identify these molecules and deduce their role in initiating cascade reactions resulting in chronic neck pain. This information is then added to an existing database created by the National Institute of Health (NIH).