Mechanical determinants of osteoarthrosis

Semin Arthritis Rheum. 1991 Dec;21(3 Suppl 2):12-21. doi: 10.1016/0049-0172(91)90036-y.


The joint is an organ and functions as a mechanical bearing created of biological materials. In the joint, as in all connective tissues, there is a relationship between mechanical factors and tissue behavior. Therefore, it is not surprising that joint health and osteoarthrosis are reflections of both mechanical and biological factors. Osteoarthrosis is not a disease, but organ failure caused initially by mechanical factors. The biological changes follow. There is no habitual pathophysiological cascade. Osteoarthrosis is best thought of not as a common final pathway, but as a common end stage. The hypotheses that in osteoarthrosis substructural disorganization of the matrix proceeds chondrocytic enzyme production, that impulsive loading is an essential factor in the progressive cartilage destruction, and that tidemark advancement and horizontal cartilage splitting are the primary mechanisms in progressive cartilage loss are discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Cartilage, Articular / physiopathology
  • Elasticity
  • Extracellular Matrix / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis / etiology*
  • Osteoarthritis / metabolism
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology
  • Proteoglycans / metabolism
  • Stress, Mechanical


  • Proteoglycans