Nonlinear ligament viscoelasticity

Ann Biomed Eng. 2001 Oct;29(10):908-14. doi: 10.1114/1.1408926.


Ligaments display time-dependent behavior, characteristic of a viscoelastic solid, and are nonlinear in their stress-strain response. Recent experiments (25) reveal that stress relaxation proceeds more rapidly than creep in medial collateral ligaments, a fact not explained by linear viscoelastic theory but shown by Lakes and Vanderby (17) to be consistent with nonlinear theory. This study tests the following hypothesis: nonlinear viscoelasticity of ligament requires a description more general than the separable quasilinear viscoelasticity (QLV) formulation commonly used. The experimental test for this hypothesis involves performing both creep and relaxation studies at various loads and deformations below the damage threshold. Freshly harvested, rat medial collateral ligaments (MCLs) were used as a model. Results consistently show a nonlinear behavior in which the rate of creep is dependent upon stress level and the rate of relaxation is dependent upon strain level. Furthermore, relaxation proceeds faster than creep; consistent with the experimental observations of Thornton et al. (25) The above results from rat MCLs are not consistent with a separable QLV theory. Inclusion of these nonlinearities would require a more general formulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Elasticity
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Ligaments / physiology*
  • Male
  • Medial Collateral Ligament, Knee / physiology
  • Models, Biological*
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Time Factors