A cartilage is a tough elastic and semitransparent tissue devoid of blood vessels and nerves.
Functions of cartilage
- It prevents friction between two bones and allows smooth and free movement.
- It absorbs shock between bones. For example the shock resulting from the vertebral bones are absorbed by cartilaginous intervertebral discs.
- It keeps open the trachea (windpipe) so that air flows into the lungs always. The cartilage of the nose also keeps the nostrils open for in-take of fresh air and output of waste air.
- The cartilage of the ribs allows contraction and expansion of the thorax thus enhancing breathing mechanism.
- It forms cushion in the sockets of bones such as the glenoid cavity of the shoulder and hip sockets.
- The ear cartilage keeps the pinnae (external ear) erect so as to collect sound vibrations from the air.
- Cartilage and bone provide the firm areas for attachment of the tendons of the muscles.
- Fibro-cartilage is found in the pubis symphysis where it allows for considerable expansion of the pubis during parturition (child birth) without complete breakage.