Knowledge of the load distribution in the knee is essential for understanding the interaction between mechanics and biology in both the healthy and diseased joint. While the sheep stifle joint is a predominant model for better understanding regeneration after injury, little is known about the compartmental force distribution between the medial and lateral condyles. By including sheep specific anatomy and gait analyses, we used computational musculoskeletal analyses to estimate the medial-lateral joint contact force distribution in ovine stifle joints during walking by simplifying the system of equations into a 2D problem that was solved directly. Gait analysis was conducted using bone markers in three female Merino-mix sheep. Joint contact forces were computed with respect to the specific anatomy of the ovine tibia, resulting in low (<0.13 bodyweight) mean anteroposterior shear forces throughout the gait cycle, with mean peak contact forces perpendicular to the tibial plateau of 2.2 times bodyweight. The medial-lateral compartmental load distribution across the tibial condyles was determined and revealed loading predominantly on the medial condyle, bearing approximately 75% of the total load during phases of peak loading. By considering the anatomical characteristics of the ovine stifle joint, together with the dynamic forces during gait, this study provides evidence for predominantly medial loading in sheep, somewhat similar to the distribution reported in man. However, the exact conditions under which the loading in the ovine stifle joint is representative of the human situation will need to be elucidated in further studies.
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