A general theory for the role of intermittently imposed stresses in the differentiation of mesenchymal tissue is presented and then applied to the process of fracture healing. Two‐dimensional finite element models of a healing osteotomy in a long bone were generated and the stress distributions were calculated throughout the early callus tissue under various loading conditions. These calculations were used in formulating theoretical predictions of tissue differentiation that were consistent with the biochemical and morphological observations of previous investigators. The results suggest that intermittent hydrosatic (dilatational) stresses may play an important role in influencing revascularization and tissue differentiation and determining the morphological patterns of initial fracture healing.
Keywords: Tissue differentiation; Fracture healing; Stress; Vascularity