Cartilage: What You Should Know

Humans and many animals have cartilage in their bodies. We feel the cartilage best in the auricle because there it is only covered by the skin. Cartilage is softer than bone, elastic, and tough. Cartilage contains veins, but rather few to allow blood to flow through. The cartilage complements the skeleton.

Cartilage also forms the tip of the nose. There, too, the cartilage is only covered with skin. You can tell that the tip of the nose is cartilage and not bone by the fact that it can be moved easily. It ensures that the nasal passages are long enough so that our organs have enough space to smell. But the cartilage also needs enough space to filter, humidify and warm up the breathing air.

In the rib cage, the cartilage holds the ribs together and connects them to the breastbone. This keeps the chest elastic so it can rise and fall as you breathe.

Between the individual vertebrae are the intervertebral discs, which are also made of cartilage. They cushion the shock when we jump down from high up and land hard. These cartilages protect the brain from excessive shocks and help the back to move.

A special piece of cartilage is located in the knee between the upper and lower leg bones: the meniscus. It’s shaped like a double ring, like a figure 8 lying flat. The meniscus helps the ligaments and muscles hold the knee in the correct position. The meniscus is often injured during sports or through careless rotation. The meniscus heals poorly because, like all cartilage, it has little blood flow. Sometimes a doctor needs to cut out a piece of the meniscus. Then the knee hardly hurts anymore. However, some people are no longer able to perform as well in sports.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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