Smooth Movement

2023-05-26 | Corporate

The knee hurts, the elbow twinges – who does not know joint problems? Cartilages can be damaged or the joint fluid is not able to counteract friction accordingly. With Anton Paar tribometers experts from around the world are able to research and produce replacement material for our joints.

Important material, difficult treatment
The cartilage as well as the synovial fluid are therefore extremely useful components of our joints. However, cartilage cells cannot divide and form anew, so if there are not enough left, this can become very painful. Some problems are also due to the synovium or synovial fluid – they either lose their lubricating ability or there is too little fluid. In some cases, exercise or a change in diet can help, but often another solution is needed: surgery or an artificial synovial fluid injected into the joint.

How can tribometers help?
Tribometers combine the investigations of friction, wear and lubrication. The portfolio of Anton Paar tribometers offers both a rotating and a linear module, so different types of motion can be simulated. When researching the properties of cartilage and joint fluids, experts rely on the MCR Tribometer. The instrument can be used to analyze naturally occurring movements between tissues and organs, but also artificially created contacts between natural and implant surfaces, such as in a hip joint.

The development of the best replacement
“There are already a few small success stories in the development of cartilage replacement materials, but it will still take several years for standard application in humans,” says Product Manager Kartik Pondicherry, who is in constant exchange with research institutions

Synovial fluid, on the other hand, can already be produced artificially to inject it into a joint when needed. But there are many challenges that research and development, as well as manufacturers, continue to face: The fluid should achieve the best effect, but the composition must be harmless to humans. This means that some materials that would have suitable properties cannot be used at all, or only in very small quantities, because they can lead to poisoning. In addition, individual components of the artificial joint fluid are very expensive, so research is looking for ways to reduce the cost-intensive substances or to use appropriate alternatives.

Another aspect to consider is that no two human bodies are alike, so each person may react differently. Therefore, for the perfect composition and the best possible functionality, many tests are needed – with strong support from Anton Paar’s tribometers.