Cartilage is a type of hard, thick, slippery tissue that coats the ends of bones where they meet with other bones to form a joint. Cartilage lines the joint space between bones throughout the body, including the spine and the rib cage. It acts as a protective cushion between bones to absorb the stress applied to joints during movement.
Cartilage is made up of protein strands called collagen that form a tough, meshlike framework. The mesh is filled with substances that hold water, much like a sponge. When weight is placed on cartilage, water is squeezed out of the mesh. When weight is taken off, the water returns. Cartilage does not contain blood vessels or nerves.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Freddie H. Fu, MD - Orthopedic Surgery|
|Last Revised||April 5, 2012|