A protective layer of firm, flexible cartilage over the articulating ends of bones. It provides a smooth surface for joint movement, protecting the ends of long bones from wear at points of contact with other bones. It also helps to absorb shock and distribute forces. Articular cartilage contains collagen fibres continuous with those of the bone below. Although the cartilage lacks blood vessels, it plays an important role in the nourishment of the underlying bone. Synovial fluid is forced in and out of the cartilage with changes of pressure produced by movements. The fluid penetrates into the bone supplying it with nutrients.
Subjects: Sports and Exercise Medicine.