The underlying mechanisms for the viscoelastic behavior of tendon and ligament tissue are poorly understood. It has been suggested that both a flow-dependent and flow-independent mechanism may contribute at different structural levels. We hypothesized that the stress relaxation response of a single tendon fascicle is consistent with the flow-dependent mechanism described by the biphasic theory (Armstrong et al., 1984, “An Analysis of the Unconfined Compression of Articular Cartilage,” ASME J. Biomech. Eng., 106, pp. 165–173). To test this hypothesis, force, lateral strain, and Poisson's ratio were measured as a function of time during stress relaxation testing of six rat tail tendon fascicles from a Sprague Dawley rat. As predicted by biphasic theory, the lateral strain and Poisson's ratio were time dependent, a large estimated volume loss was seen at equilibrium and there was a linear correlation between the force and Poisson's ratio during stress relaxation. These results suggest that the fluid dependent mechanism described by biphasic theory may explain some or all of the apparent viscoelastic behavior of single tendon fascicles.

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