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Difference Between Bone and Cartilage

Bone vs Cartilage

Even with only a little background about the normal anatomy and physiology of a human being, you would have an idea as to the difference between a bone and a cartilage.

Bones are important parts of the body as they serve a lot of vital functions. Foremost, they protect the body from any mechanical injury or damage. Secondly, they serve as the body’s framework for it to take shape and for it to be able to move. This makes bones a tougher anatomical structure compared to muscles, the skin and cartilages. Perhaps the least known function of bones is on their inherent ability for mineral storage and synthesis of blood cells. Yes, bones store important minerals like calcium and it is even the site of both white blood cell and red blood cell production.

Cartilages on the other hand, have the primary purpose of decreasing friction at the joint area. For example, the human body’s joints like the knee joint has some cartilaginous structures that enable a less restricted and a more flexible range of motion as friction is minimized. For the respiratory system, there are cartilages that support the bronchial tubes and the trachea. More importantly, there are cartilage structures found in between the vertebrae which act like shock absorbers. For the more aesthetic purpose, cartilages help maintain the normal shape, look and flexibility of the nose, ears and many other superficial structures of the human body.

With regard to the actual composition of the two structures, bones are made of osseous tissue with cells that are specifically named as the bone lining cells, osteoblasts, osteocytes and osteoclasts (the cells responsible for bone repair and growth). Cartilages are made of chondroblasts (precursor cells), a dense mesh of elastic fibers and collagen, and chondrocytes. By nature, human beings usually start developing cartilages first which will then mature into bones.

Both bones and cartilages have their own respective sets of diseases if ever they become damaged or attacked by foreign invaders like bacteria. Some of the well known bone diseases are: osteosarcoma, osteogenesis imperfecta, osteomyelitis and osteoporosis (perhaps the most popular of them all). Cartilage diseases include costochondritis, achondroplasia and osteoarthritis.

The two are also classified differently. Bones are specially grouped based on their appearance or length like short, long, irregular, flat, sutural and sesamoid bones. Conversely, cartilages are classified as elastic cartilage, fibrocartilage and hyaline cartilages.

1. Bones are tougher body structures compared to cartilages.

2. Bones are made of osseus tissue while cartilages are made of elastic fibers among other components.


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