Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Virginia L. Ferguson

Second Advisor

Richard A. Reguerio

Third Advisor

Dana R. Carpenter

Fourth Advisor

Rong Long

Fifth Advisor

Franck Vernerey


Arthritis is the most costly disability in the United States annually incurring billions of dollars in treatment costs and lost wages. Osteoarthritis, a classification of arthritis, affects articulating synovial joints (e.g., hip, knee, shoulder) and results in moderate to severe pain. In extreme cases, osteoarthritis causes loss of joint mobility. Presently, there is not a clear understanding of how osteoarthritis initiates, propagates, and ultimately degrades the mechanics of healthy synovial joints. This doctoral work uses computational modeling techniques and finite element analysis to elucidate the initiation and evolution of osteoarthritis with the ultimate goal of contributing to improved clinical treatments. The first project was to develop a damage model for articular cartilage, the tissue lining the contact surfaces of synovial joints. An articular cartilage damage model was developed with the capability to model 3-D fully anisotropic damage including complete tissue tensile failure and progressive damage to critical structural elements. The second project was to develop a model of the complete bone-cartilage unit including poroelastic material behavior (i.e., solid-fluid interactions during loading of porous materials). This model demonstrated differences in poroelastic behavior between normal and osteoarthritic joint tissues and suggested that alterations in fluid flow patterns as a result of osteoarthritis may lead to increasingly diminished joint health. The final project integrated the first and second projects with a previously developed bone remodeling algorithm to study the initiation and progression behavior of osteoarthritis. This model showed that while articular cartilage damage and bone remodeling may initially as independent processes, they likely become interdependent as osteoarthritis progresses. Overall, these results improve our understanding of the in vivo mechanics of osteoarthritis initiation and progression and may guide future experimental and computational studies with the ultimate goal of improving clinical outcomes for osteoarthritis patients.