Articular cartilage is the remarkable bearing material of diarthrodial joints. Experimental measurements of its friction coefficient under various configurations have demonstrated that it is load-dependent, velocity-dependent, and time-dependent, and it can vary from values as low as 0.002 to as high as 0.3 or greater. Yet, many studies have suggested that these frictional properties are not dependent upon the viscosity of synovial fluid. In this paper, a theoretical formulation of a boundary friction model for articular cartilage is described and verified directly against experimental results in the configuration of confined compression stress-relaxation. The mathematical formulation of the friction model can potentially explain many of the experimentally observed frictional responses in relation to the pressurization of the interstitial fluid inside cartilage during joint loading, and the equilibrium friction coefficient which prevails in the absence of such pressurization. In this proposed model, it is also hypothesized that surface porosities play a role in the regulation of the frictional response of cartilage. The good agreement between theoretical predictions and experimental results of this study provide support for the proposed boundary friction formulation.

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