Stress concentrations and bone microdamage: John Currey's contributions to understanding the initiation and arrest of cracks in bone

David B. Burr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


The microarchitecture of bone tissue presents many features that could act as stress concentrators for the initiation of bone microdamage. This was first identified by John Currey in a seminal paper in 1962 in which he presented the mechanical and biological evidence for stress concentrations at the bone surface, within the bone through the action of stiffness differentials between architectural features including between lamellae, and at the level of the lacunar and canalicular walls. Those early observations set the stage to consider how microscopic damage to bone tissue might affect the properties of bone at a time when most in the scientific community dismissed microcracks in bone as artifact. Evidence collected in the nearly 60 years since those important initial observations suggest that some of these architectural features in bone tissue are more effective as crack arrestors than as crack initiators. Sites of higher mineralization in the bone matrix, particularly interstitial sites in both cortical and trabecular bone, may serve preferentially as locations for crack initiation, whereas those boundaries identified by Currey as both stress concentrators and stress arrestors are more effective at stopping cracks than at initiating them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)517-525
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Oct 2019



  • Bone
  • Fatigue
  • Fracture mechanics
  • Microcrack
  • Microstructure
  • Stress concentration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Histology

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