What is Cartilage?

normal cartilageCartilage is a hard, rubbery substance found within all of our joints.  Cartilage functions as a shock absorber, and in most instances, it produces an unbelievably smooth surface or interface so that two bones can move on one another without any friction.

Our joints have two different types of cartilage. One is the articular cartilage which is on the ends of the bone itself.  It is firmly anchored to the bone and more rigid than the other form of cartilage in some of our joints.

Hip posterior labrumThe other form of cartilage we have is also referred to as a meniscus, or in the hip and shoulder it is called a labrum.  A meniscus or labrum is made up of a different substance than articular cartilage.  The fibers within the meniscus cartilage are different and a meniscus functions in a different manner than the articular cartilage.

When you hear someone say they have a cartilage tear they are referring to the meniscus or the labrum.

If you know someone who is suffering from osteoarthritis then they have a problem with their articular cartilage.  Over time, or following an injury the articular cartilage can wear thin.  If you have significant thinning or complete loss of articular cartilage, then you have severe arthritis.

Any questions?

Thanks to D.H. from Houston for their suggestion for today’s post.

Any thoughts for another Terminology Tuesday post?

Disclaimer:  this information is for your education and should not be considered medical advice regarding diagnosis or treatment recommendations. Some links on this page may be affiliate links. Read the full disclaimer.

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About the author:

Howard J. Luks, MD

Howard J. Luks, MD

A Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon in Hawthorne, NY. Dr. Howard Luks specializes in the treatment of the shoulder, knee, elbow, and ankle. He has a very "social" patient centric approach and believes that the more you understand about your issue, the more informed your decisions will be. Ultimately your treatments and his recommendations will be based on proper communications, proper understanding, and shared decision-making principles – all geared to improve your quality of life.

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