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Abstract

A chondral growth/force response curve predicts how intact hyaline cartilage plates grow in vivo under typical peak mechanical unit loads and gradients thereof in healthy immature mammals. Growth under tension would increase as tension rises from zero to a level that damages the tissue. Under compression, growth would increase as the load rises from zero to a level at which growth becomes maximal (the growth-ascending limb of the curve). Further increases in compression loads retard growth and large enough increases can stop it entirely (the growth-descending limb of the curve). For equal changes in loads, the smallest growth change would occur under tension; the largest change would occur on the growth-descending part of the curve. Under zero load a respectable “baseline growth” still occurs. Those effects are superimposed on inherent differences in growth potential of different chondral plates, differences that are determined partly in utero and by the genome.

The curve's features can explain many anatomical facts, including the ball-and-socket ankle, joint alignment in the valgus-varus sense, hip dislocations in spasticity, different epiphyseal heights, short bones in paralysed limbs, long bone overgrowth after fractures, why some joint surfaces remain concave and others convex throughout growth, and why some growth plates are domed instead of flat. The above phenomena can be expressed mathematically, and a phenomenologic basic logical framework for doing that is suggested.