Read more about the difference between sprains and strains here. A ligament is a fibrous connective tissue which attaches bone to bone, and usually serves to hold structures together and keep them stable. What’s the difference between a tendon vs ligament? Copyright 1997-2020, A.D.A.M., Inc. In this article, we look at the differences between tendons and ligaments, including possible injuries and how to treat them. Aside from strains and sprains, people can also bruise the tendons or ligaments, along with the surrounding tissue. What's to know about extensor tendonitis? Grade 2: Moderate sprains where the ligament partially tears. Symptoms include pain in or near to the knee joint. A ligament is a fibrous connective tissue which attaches bone to bone, and usually serves to hold structures together and keep them stable. Ligaments appear as crisscross bands that attach bone to bone and help stabilize joints. Doctors classify sprains by grades, from grade 1 (a mild sprain with slight stretching of the ligament) to grade 3 (a complete tear of the ligament that makes the joint unstable). That hyperextension overstretches the ligament. Severe strains may take weeks or months to heal. How to treat tendon and ligament injuries, Is It a Sprain or a Strain? Ligaments and tendons are both made up of fibrous connective tissue, but that’s about where the similarity ends. In many cases, a person will need surgery and physical therapy. Tendons also help absorb some of the impact muscles take as they spring into action. Injuries to tendons and ligaments can be very painful. Yellow ligaments contain more elastic fibers, which allow more movement. Tendons and ligaments commonly sustain injuries, which usually have similar symptoms and treatments. This can occur as a result of the natural aging process. Tendons are strong and non-flexible while ligaments are flexible and elastic. The main difference between tendons and ligaments is that they connect different parts of the anatomy. A sprain occurs when a ligament stretches or tears. Grade 1: Mild sprains in which the fibers of the ligament stretch, but the ligament does not tear. These ligaments help stabilize the knee and keep it from moving too far to the left or right, forward or backward. All rights reserved. Subluxation is more likely in people with certain genetic anatomical differences, but tendons can also snap out of place as a result of an injury. Tendons contain bundles of fiber, which a type of tissue called endotenon surrounds. When this happens, a doctor might drain the fluid or even remove the bursa. But others are. This inflammation often happens because of overuse or extreme stress on the joint. This tissue enables bundles of tendon fibers to move against one another, supporting body movement. The treatments for ligament and tendon injuries are very similar. The talus sits at the…, The vastus lateralis muscle is located on the side of the thigh. It is very difficult to self-diagnose the injury or to tell the difference between tendon and ligament injuries based on the symptoms alone. However, it is important not to use pain relievers as a way to ignore the pain and return to daily activities. Fibromyalgia: This is a condition that may cause pain in the muscles, tendons, or ligaments. Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. It attaches the calf muscle to the heel bone. Ligaments and tendons can stretch or tear relatively easily. People with tendinitis may notice that the area is painful, swollen, and warm to the touch. Subluxation happens when a tendon moves out of place. Hamstring tendonitis is a swollen or injured hamstring tendon. In addition, there are some other minor anatomical differences. Tendons connect muscles to bones, while ligaments connect bones to other bones. A person might hear a popping or snapping sound when it happens and then experience pain and weakness in the affected joint. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. It can be a temporary, minor inconvenience or a debilitating injury that takes months to heal. Tendons are tough, stretchy tissues that join muscles to bone. Tendons and ligaments are thick bands of tissue comprising collagen. Ligaments and tendons are both made of connective tissue and both can be torn or overstretched, but they differ in function. Our website services, content, and products are for informational purposes only. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. A common sports injury is a strain, which is damage to a tendon or the muscle to which it connects. © 2005-2020 Healthline Media a Red Ventures Company. Tendons are robust, non-flexible, and strong, but ligaments are elastic, flexible, and delicate. • There is only one tendon for a particular muscle at one end while there are few ligaments connecting two bones at a joint. Learn more about A.D.A.M. Editorial team. So how do we differentiate a tendon vs. ligament? The symptoms of tendon and ligament injuries tend to be very similar. For more severe injuries, a person may need additional treatment. Tendons may also attach muscles to structures such as the eyeball. The easiest way to remember the difference between tendons and ligaments is fairly simple: Ligaments attach a bone to a bone; Tendons hold a muscle and a bone together Tendons may also attach muscles to structures such as the eyeball. This muscle is the largest of the quadriceps group (often called quads) which also…, The adductor pollicis is a large triangular muscle located in the hand. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. They contain plenty of collagen. Both of these components make up your musculoskeletal system. There are two different types of ligament: white and yellow. The injury can be very painful. They crisscross across where the bones meet and provide stability. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized in writing by ADAM Health Solutions. Tendon ruptures can also occur. To use the sharing features on this page, please enable JavaScript. Bursitis is a type of inflammation that may feel like an injury to the tendon or ligament. Two types of soft, fibrous connective tissue in the body that support muscles and bones are known as tendons and ligaments. Treatment for subluxation depends on its severity and the underlying cause. Several factors can increase the risk of injury, including: Tendon injuries are relatively common, especially in people who play sports. Tendons and ligaments are fibrous bands of connective tissue. Tendon and Ligament Injuries Whenever a person overuses a muscle due to repetitive movement, tendons can become irritated or inflamed and suffer from small tears. Tendons, located at each end of a muscle, attach muscle to bone. A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, for Health Content Provider ( For example, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) attaches the thighbone to the shinbone, stabilizing the knee joint. Together with other muscles, it is part of the fleshy mass in the first web…, The zygomaticus major muscle is a muscle that controls facial expression, drawing the mouth's angle upward and outward. You may also experience muscle cramping and weakness. A tendon serves to move the bone or structure. Well, the most obvious difference is that ligaments connect bone to bone, not muscle. For minor strains, sprains, inflammation, and other injuries, most doctors will recommend the RICE method: Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help with the pain. This MNT…. twisting the tendon or ligament into an awkward position, weakness in the surrounding muscles due to a sedentary lifestyle.

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