Bones & Cartilage

What are Joints & Cartliage

Joint is the point of connection between two bones which allows movement & provides mechanical support to muscles (except for skull bones).

Structural Classification of Joints:

According to the type of binding tissue that connects the bones to each other, joints are classified into:

  1. a) Fibrous Joint (Immovable): Joined by dense regular connective tissue that is rich in collagen fibres. Ex.Skull sutures.
  1. b) Cartilaginous Joint (Partially movable): Joined by cartilage. Ex. Intervertebral joints.
  2. c) Synovial Joint (Freely movable): These joints have a synovial cavity. Ex. Knee joints.



Cartilage is a dense smooth and shiny white connective tissue. The end of each bone is covered with cartilage. It is a structural component of the rib cage, the ear, the nose, the bronchial tubes, the intervertebral discs & many other body components. It is not as hard and rigid as bone, but it is much stiffer and much less flexible than muscle.

Functions of Cartilage:


  • Reduces friction between two bones
  • Acts as a cushion to absorb the shock associated with joint use
  • Efficiently transmits weight loads to the underlying bone
  • Composition of Cartilage:
  • Matrix (95% of cartilage tissue)
  • Chondrocytes (5% of cartilage)
  • Composition of Matrix:
  • Proteoglycan: 15% (Attracts water)
  • Collagen Fibers: 10% (Provides strength)
  • Water: 75% (Nutrients & Lubrication)
  • Proteoglycans are protein molecules, which high attraction for water. Proteoglycan consist of central protein core with Glycosaminoglycan (GAG). Proteoglycans are synthesized by chondrocytes.


Importance of Proteoglycans:


  • Loss of proteoglycans means cartilage loses its ability to absorb shock and cartilage cannot function normally.
  • Loss of proteoglycans leads to cracking, wear and tear of cartilage.

Hyaluronic Acid:

  • Hyaluronic Acid is a mucopolysaccharide that is a natural lubricant present in cartilage and synovial fluid.

Collagen Fiber:

  • In cartilage there is a dense network of these tough ropy collagen fibers, which provide tensile strength and stiffness.

Chondrocytes (Cartilage Cells):

Chondrocytes are cells of the cartilage. Chondrocytes are widely distributed throughout the cartilage and embedded in the matrix. They continuously manufacture new proteoglycans and collagen. The integrity of the cartilage is dependent on the activity of the Chondrocytes.

Function of Chondrocytes:

  • To regulate regeneration & degeneration of cartilage

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