By Natalie and Julia


Parts, Processes, and Problems

  Cartilage is found practically everywhere you look. Its found surrounding the ends of bones that form joints, known as articular cartilage. Cartilage forms around the ribs and is sometimes called rib or coastal cartilage. The epiglottis in the throat is another form of cartilage. The trachea (windpipe) is another place where cartilage is found. Wide cartilage plates are found in long bones. When you are born, your bones are made up of elastic-like cartilage. As you develop, your calcium and other mineral matter begin to take over as your bones become larger and stronger.
Although cartilage is usually known
as a simple  structure, it is actually a
complex, active tissue with a large
amount of structural heterogeneity.
Plus, biochemical analysis has shown
complex components. Between sixty
and eighty per cent of human
cartilage is water, the amount
varying according to  joint type. Of
the remaining amount, collagen
accounts for around fifty per cent,
with the rest being proteoglycans
(protein-glycosminoglycan molecules),
chondrocytes, and non-collagenous
proteins, lipids and inroganic
material. The collagen/ proteoglycan
matrix provides a frame for
the tissue and also forms a fluid area for
transporting nutrients, waste  products,
chemical messengers and hormones, to
and from the chondrocytes.

    Cartilage is a connective tissue that creates a temporary skeleton for an unborn baby. In an adult, cartilage comes in three forms. Elastic cartilage contains elastin which gives the epiglottis in the throat and the outer ear, a bouncy effect. Fibrocartilage makes up special disks which separates the bones of the spine and links them to the pubic bones. Hyaline cartilage forms a special kind of cartilage that covers the ends of joints, connects the ribs and breastbone, makes sure the large airways stay open, and shapes the nose. Overall cartilage provides proction for joints, reduces friction between bones, and provides shape for certain body parts.

Disorders and Damages

    Costochondritis isan inflammation of the cartilage which connects the rib cage and sternum. This disorder often affects new mothers. Pregnancy hormones make cartilage painful and inflamed. Carrying our babies puts more strain on it.
    Relapsing polychondritis (RP) is an systemic disorder described as a widespread and destructive inflammatory disorder involving structures with cartilage, the cardiovascular system, and organs of  sense such as the eyes and ears. Attacks tend to vary in duration usually lasting for days to weeks before making an improvement. Reacuurent episodes may lead to permanent loss of usage in structures of cartilage.
    Diagnostic Criteria
Three or more clinical signs must be present:
   1.Recurrent chondritis both auricles
   2.Non-erosive inflammatory polyarthritis
   3.Nasal chondritis
   4.Ocular inflammation
   5.Respiratory tract chondritis
   6.Cochlear and, or, vestibular dysfunction

    Clinical Symptoms and Signs
    Symptoms that occur most frequently include: auricular chondritis, polyarthritis, nasal chondritis, ocular inflammation, and respiratory tract involvement. Cauliflower deformities may happen with calcification of cartilaginous portions. Eustachian tube dysfunction and collapse resulting in hearing loss may occur in the middle ear. Disintegration of the airway cartilages results in laryngo-tracheo-bronchial chondritis, chondromalacia, subglottic stenosis causing collapse of trachea and bronchi, pulmonary infections and  asphyxia. People may also experience costochondral junction pain (arthropathy). The nasal cartilage might experience acute chondritis (pain, swelling), rhinorrhea, epistaxis, or saddle nose deformity. Approximately 25% of cases have coexistent diseases, especially autoimmune diseases (systemic vasculitis (PAN, Takayasu's, GCA, Wegener's), rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren's syndrome, SLE, PSS, Reiter's, Behcet's, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitic and paraneoplastic syndrome).
Torn cartilage
    Knee cartilage tears are among the most common injuries in athletes because the knee joint is under constant pounding in many sports, from football and basketball to soccer and hockey.
    Two types of cartilage are found in the knee joint: meniscus and articular. Meniscus cartilage is located between the femur and the tibia which serves as a cushion to reduce friction at the joint. As you are  walking and running, it provides lubrication for the knee joint and distribute weight evenly by acting as a shock absorber. "Articular, or hyaline, cartilage is the substance that covers the ends of the femur and tibia and allows the two bones two glide against each other without grinding." ( Meniscus cartilage is more likely to be torn while playing sports because it's the line of defense in absorbing trauma in the knee. But either or both types can be damaged by the trauma.
    A tear in cartilage commonly occurs when the knee is bent or flexed such when twisting or turning.
When torn an athlete will usually feel something tear. The knee may totally collapse and immediately swell. There'll be major pain and difficulty in walking. The ongoing symtpoms include pain along the side of the knee where the meniscus is torn, instability in which a piece of cartilage actually moves in the joint. But the impact of torn cartilage can be reduced by any patient. "They have to understand that for every pound they gain in excess of normal weight, that translates into three to four additional pounds across the knee. That's very important. That kind of load wears the knee out earlier. And people need to be aware that the quadriceps, the four-headed muscle in front of the thigh, is a crucial shock and impact absorber. It's important to keep that muscle strong and flexible, because it will help protect the joint surfaces of the knee. Keeping your weight down and keeping your legs strong are probably the most important of all preventive measures that can be taken." (


Fast Facts

Did you know.......?

Our Track

This is our track. It includes information on cartilage repair, torn cartilage, and general information on cartilage. Includes great images of cartilage and knee injuries. When you are done take the quiz to see how much you've learned.

Concentration Game

This is a concentration game. There will be sixteen cards.  Flip over the different cards to reveal words and definitions. When you match two of the correct answers you will receive one point. If you are incorrect, you will receive extra points. The object of the game is, at the end of the game to have the least amount of points.

Links and Annotations

* = An ok site. Doesn't really have that much info

** = A good site. Includes decent pictures and text.

*** = An excellent site. Great pictures, info, and links


This is a very good site. It includes information on torn cartilage. It has complete diagrams of cartilage in the knee. You can talk with a professional, Dr.Goldman, about any concerns or questionbs you have about cartilage.


This website talks about the structure of cartilage itself. Includes a great picture of the structure of cartilage. Breaks down the matter of cartilage quickly and easily for you.


This site talks about the disorder of cartilage called costochodritis. It doesn't include any pictures, but it includes a good desription of what costochondritis is. You can also link to a question and answerr with a professional to talk about diseases of cartilage.


This site gives you the sraight out definition of cartilage itself. This site doesn't have any pictures, but without them it gives you a clear, yet simple understanding of cartilage. Includes links where you can type in any question or word concernerd with cartilage and get an answer.


This is an extremely excellent site. Includes lots of images on cartilage, torn cartilage, and the structure of cartilage. The sites explanations are thorough and understandable.


Richmond, Julius B MD. Health and Growth Volume 5. California State Department of Education. 1974

This book gives great insite on the parts and early stages of cartilage. For someone not knowing that much about cartilage, it talks about where cartilage is and why its there. It includes pictures of practically every place where you can find cartilage.The images and information is large and clear so that it is very understandable. (pgs. 48, 100, 108, 112, 113, 143)

Time Atlas of the Body. Rand McMally and Co. 1976

This book gives great picturces about cartilage and its counterparts. It also has a great description on hyaline cartilage, fibrocartilage and elastic cartilage. It has a gigantic picture of the structure of a bone and its cartilage. It also shows pictures and has information contrasting the three kinds of cartilage. It was the best information that we could find. ( pgs. 26-27)

McLoughim, E.V. LHD. The Unified Encyclopedia Vloume 6. hs Suttman Co. Inc. New York 1960

This book has about a paragraph of information, but its woth looking at. If you want to know abotu cartilage. It talks about the typoes of cartilage. It shows where the cartilage can be found, what the different names of the cartilage work, and briefly describes yellow and white fibrocartilage. Its like a shrt summary from the time altsa book. (pg. 1813)

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