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There is a long history of mathematical and computational modelling with the objective of understanding the mechanisms governing cartilage׳s remarkable mechanical performance. Nonetheless, despite sophisticated modelling development, simulations of cartilage have consistently lagged behind structural knowledge and thus the relationship between structure and function in cartilage is not fully understood. However, in the most recent generation of studies, there is an emerging confluence between our structural knowledge and the structure represented in cartilage modelling. This raises the prospect of further refinement in our understanding of cartilage function and also the initiation of an engineering-level understanding for how structural degradation and ageing relates to cartilage dysfunction and pathology, as well as informing the potential design of prospective interventions. Aimed at researchers entering the field of cartilage modelling, we thus review the basic principles of cartilage models, discussing the underlying physics and assumptions in relatively simple settings, whilst presenting the derivation of relatively parsimonious multiphase cartilage models consistent with our discussions. We proceed to consider modern developments that start aligning the structure captured in the models with observed complexities. This emphasises the challenges associated with constitutive relations, boundary conditions, parameter estimation and validation in cartilage modelling programmes. Consequently, we further detail how both experimental interrogations and modelling developments can be utilised to investigate and reduce such difficulties before summarising how cartilage modelling initiatives may improve our understanding of cartilage ageing, pathology and intervention.

Original publication




Journal article


J mech behav biomed mater

Publication Date





139 - 157


Cartilage, Function, Modelling, Multiphase, Pathology, Structure, Biomechanical Phenomena, Cartilage, Humans, Models, Biological