Cartilaginous Joints

Define cartilaginous joints:

Cartilaginous joints are connections between bones that are held tightly together by cartilage - specifically either hyaline cartilage or fibrocartilage.

The definition of a cartilaginous joint is clearer with information about how cartilaginous joints compare with the other types of joints.

Cartilaginous joints is 1 of the 3 structural classes of joints:

Types and classes of joints in general are described on the page about types of joints.

Types of cartilaginous joints

There are two types of cartilaginous joints in the human body :

  • Synchondroses (plural, the singular word is "a synchondrosis")
  • Symphyses (plural, the singular word is "a symphysis")

Type of cartilaginous joint
Definition / Description

(plural, the singular is synchondrosis)

A synchondrosis is an immovable joint (synarthrosis) in which the material connecting the articulating surfaces is hyaline cartilage.

Sternocostal joint
between the first rib and the sternum.

Epiphyseal plate between the epiphysis and diaphysis of growing bones
e.g. the tibia (lower-leg bone) in children.


(plural, the singular is symphysis)

A symphysis is a slightly movable joint (amphiarthrosis) in which the articulating surfaces of the articulating bones are covered with hyaline cartilage and the bones are attached together by a layer, which is sometimes called a "disc", of fibrocartilage.

Pubic symphysis between the anterior surfaces of the hip bones.

Intervertebral joints between vertebrae.

Summary of the difference between hyaline cartilage and fibrocartilage

Hyaline Cartilage

Note similarities and differences:

Hyaline cartilage consists of a bluish-white, shiny ground elastic material with a matrix of chondroitin sulphate into which many fine collagen fibres are embedded. It contains numerous chondrocytes.

Fibrocartilage is a tough form of cartilage that consists of chondrocytes scattered among clearly visible dense bundles of collagen fibres within the matrix. Fibrocartilage lacks a perichondrium, i.e. a dense layer of fibrous connective tissue covering the surface of the cartilage.


Hyaline cartilage tissue provides smooth surfaces, enabling tissues to move/slide easily over each other, e.g. facilitating smooth movements at joints. It is also provides flexibility and support.

Fibrocartilage tissue provides support and rigidity to attached/surrounding structures and is the strongest of the three types of cartilage.

Examples of cartilaginous joints

Examples of synchondroses:

  • Sternocostal joint - between the first rib and the sternum
  • Epiphyseal growth plates in children, i.e. while the bones are still growing. Examples include:

Examples of symphyses:

  • The sternum bone:
    • between the body of the sternum (also called the gladiolus) and the manubrium (upper part of) the sternum bone
    • between the body of the sternum (also called the gladiolus) and the xiphoid process (lower part of) the sternum bone
  • Sacrococcygeal joint - between the sacrum and the coccyx
  • Pubic symphysis - between the superior rami of the left and right pubic bones.


This is the end of this page about cartilaginous joints.

See also types of joints, fibrous joints and synovial joints.

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