Although there are empirical correlations between strain rate, cortical and cancellous bone apparent stiffness, apparent yield strength, apparent ultimate strength and cortical bone fracture toughness, a mechanistic description for these phenomena is lacking.
Microcracking is a major mechanism in cortical and cancellous bone failure, however, microdamage content alone cannot explain the strain rate dependence of bone strength without considering time-dependent behavior of the crack. Using a rate-dependent model of a fiber-bridged microcrack and data from the literature, we demonstrate that the experimental apparent yield strength of bone can be predicted directly from measurements of apparent moduli of elasticity of bone constituents and failure strain of the collagenous matrix.
Yield strength predictions for estrogen depleted bone were made using the model and data from ovariectomized sheep. It was predicted that the yield strength of estrogen-deficient bone is comparable to that of normal bone within strain rates associated with physiological activities. For high strain rates, however, the strength of estrogen-depleted bone was predicted to be much weaker than normals suggesting a higher fracture risk due to impact from falls, for individuals with estrogen-depleted bones such as in post-menopausal osteoporosis.