The short answer to what is the difference between anatomy and physiology is (drumroll please) Anatomy = Structure and Physiology = Function. But what fun is the short answer?
Anatomy is derived from the greek work “cut up” (heebie jeebies anyone) and is the study of how your body is laid out. What makes it up, where is the stomach located and what shape is the stomach, how thick are the walls of your stomach, is it dark inside there? Anatomy tries to answer all those questions by mapping everything out. The fun does not stop there, anatomy will use everything it can get it’s hands, on to figure out how your body is built. X-ray, anatomy loves it, microscope, anatomy is on it, CT scans, anatomy is waiting on you to catch up. When you pop those poor squished cells of the stomach under the microscope you are hanging out in the anatomy zone. Looking at and mapping out the shape of all you see (and in the case of atoms, what you don’t see). For some good old anatomy fun http://www.innerbody.com/.
Physiology is all about how your body works. What is going on in that body? How does food go in one end and something entirely different come out the other? Physiology is asking those questions on all kind of levels. Physiology does not just want to know how does the stomach work, it goes further and asks how do the cells that make the stomach, work? Does physiology stop there, oh no, it goes poking around at the atoms, that make up the cell, how do they work? Physiology and Anatomy are relentless, they want to know it all and they want it written down in a book, reviewed by lots of other folks asking the same questions and then for good measure memorized. They’ll wear you out with their questions, questions, questions.
Anatomy and Physiology like to work together. Don’t know how something is functioning, good old anatomy will shoot it’s hand up and tell you how it is shaped, where all the cells are located, how many arteries it has going to it, on and on and on. Anatomy is not trying to muddy up the waters, it’s trying to help out Physiology. It’s saying to Physiology, listen here, I got this cell that has a bunch of mitochondria, not just some, but a bunch. Physiology gets to thinking, well mitochondria gives the cell energy, so if a cell has a lot of mitochondria, it must need a lot of energy, and if it needs a lot of energy it must be working. What that cell working at? Physiology does not know, but it knows it is not napping, which is more than it knew before Anatomy spoke up.