While mechanisms of post-traumatic osteoarthrosis are largely unknown, excessive stresses and strains generated in articular cartilage and the underlying bone may play a role. In this manuscript a technique is described for studying the impact response of a diarthrodial joint. A mathematical model of the rabbit PF joint indicated that contact pressures predicted by a quasi-static plane strain linear elastic model compared well with experimental data when Poisson’s ratio and Young’s modulus of the cartilage were 0.49 and 2 MPa, respectively. This value for the elastic modulus compared well with that obtained from elastic analysis of short-time indentation experiments on cartilage from a previous study. The model analysis also suggested that surface fissuring of patellar cartilage occurs near areas where shear stresses and tensile strains are high. Impact location on the patella significantly influenced the distributions of shear stress along the bone-cartilage interface and tensile strains in the cartilage. These results may help explain some of the mechanisms of initial tissue damage reported elsewhere. Limited experimental data are presented here but the value of such mathematical models for estimation of material properties and for analysis of damage creation is clearly demonstrated.

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