The compressive stiffness of articular cartilage was examined in oscillatory confined compression over a wide frequency range including high frequencies relevant to impact loading. Nonlinear behavior was found when the imposed sinusoidal compression amplitude exceeded a threshold value that depended on frequency. Linear behavior was attained only by suitable control of the compression amplitude. This was enabled by real time Fourier analysis of data which provided an accurate assessment of the extent of nonlinearity. For linear viscoelastic behavior, a stiffness could be defined in the usual sense. The dependence of the stiffness on ionic strength and proteoglycan content showed that electrostatic forces between matrix charge groups contribute significantly to cartilage’s compressive stiffness over the 0.001 to 20 Hz frequency range. Sinusoidal streaming potentials were also generated by oscillatory compression. A theory relating the streaming potential field to the fluid velocity field is derived and used to interpret the data. The observed magnitude of the streaming potential suggests that interstitial fluid flow is significant to cartilage behavior over the entire frequency range. The use of simultaneous streaming potential and stiffness data with an appropriate theory appears to be an important tool for assessing the relative contribution of fluid flow, intrinsic matrix viscoelasticity, or other molecular mechanisms to energy dissipation in cartilage. This method is applicable in general to hydrated, charged polymers.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.