Cartilage is a type of firm, 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, and 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. Although cartilage is very strong, it can be
damaged when a joint is injured.
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Nancy Ann Shadick, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine, Rheumatology
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