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Ann Biomed Eng. 2003 Jun;31(6):710-7.

Effects of creep and cyclic loading on the mechanical properties and failure of human Achilles tendons.

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Rehabilitation Research and Development Center, Veterans Affairs Health Care System, 3801 Miranda Avenue No. 153, Palo Alto, CA, USA.


The Achilles tendon is one of the most frequently injured tendons in humans, and yet the mechanisms underlying its injury are not well understood. This study examines the ex vivo mechanical behavior of excised human Achilles tendons to elucidate the relationships between mechanical loading and Achilles tendon injury. Eighteen tendons underwent creep testing at constant stresses from 35 to 75 MPa. Another 25 tendons underwent sinusoidal cyclic loading at 1 Hz between a minimum stress of 10 MPa and maximum stresses of 30-80 MPa. For the creep specimens, there was no significant relationship between applied stress and time to failure, but time to failure decreased exponentially with increasing initial strain (strain when target stress is first reached) and decreasing failure strain. For the cyclically loaded specimens, secant modulus decreased and cyclic energy dissipation increased over time. Time and cycles to failure decreased exponentially with increasing applied stress, increasing initial strain (peak strain from first loading cycle), and decreasing failure strain. For both creep and cyclic loading, initial strain was the best predictor of time or cycles to failure, supporting the hypothesis that strain is the primary mechanical parameter governing tendon damage accumulation and injury. The cyclically loaded specimens failed faster than would be expected if only time-dependent damage occurred, suggesting that repetitive loading also contributes to Achilles tendon injuries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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