Difference between Tendon and Ligament (With Table)

Tendon vs Ligament

Tendons and Ligaments are responsible for every small movement in the human body. They are the connective tissues that enable locomotion in the human body.

The key difference between Tendon and Ligament is that tendon joins a bone to a skeletal muscle. However, the ligament is only responsible for the joining of two bones.

Both fall under the category of Dense Granular Connective Tissues. Without these, a human body cannot achieve the proper working of the muscular and skeletal system.

Tendons are stiff and inelastic in nature, while ligaments are found to have elasticity and flexibility in it. Both the tendons and ligaments are comprised of living cells.

They are made up of an enormous amount of collagen fibers. Tendon is said to act as a mediator as it connects the end part of a muscle to a bone.

Whenever an injury occurs in tendon and ligament, it takes much more time in order to heal. Lack of blood vessels presents in these connective tissues due to which the required nutrients, to heal an injury, can’t be reached at the site of damage.


 

Comparison Table Between Tendon and Ligament (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonTendonLigament
DefinitionTendons are responsible for connecting muscles to a bone.Ligaments are the connective tissues that act as a connection between two bones.
NatureTendons are not elastic and sturdy in nature.Ligaments are elastic and stronger and enable a bone to move.
Form of FibresParallel bundles of fibers, which are compact, found to be present in tendons.Here, in ligaments, the fibers are found to be packed compactly. However, fibers bundles arranged in a parallel manner can’t be found here.
ClassificationTendons are not classified any further.Ligaments are classified into three different types, namely fetal remnant ligaments, articular ligaments, and peritoneal ligaments.
CompositionWhite fibrous connective tissueYellow fibrous connective tissue

 

What is Tendon?

Tendon is a type of connective tissue that is responsible for connecting muscles to other parts of the human body, usually bones. Through tendons, the mechanical force of muscles is get transmitted to the bones.

Tendons are highly strong connective tissues in comparison to other soft tissues found in our bodies. The composition of tissues in tendon fibers, along with their parallel orientation, is what provides them the great strength.

A tendon is made up of dense fibrous connective tissues. These dense tissues are composed of collagen fibers. Many collagen fibrils join together in order to make primary collagen fibers, which is considered as the most basic unit of a tendon.

These primary collagen fibers bundle up to make subfasicles that bundle up again in order to make fascicles. Now, tertiary fiber bundles are made by the grouping of these fascicles.

These tertiary fiber bundles get bunched up in order to form a tendon.

Tendons contain two types of primary cells, namely fibrocytes and fibroblasts. Fibroblasts are also called as tenoblasts, and they are immature spindle-shaped cells.

Fibrocytes are also known as tenocytes, and they also possess a spindle-shaped structure.

Tendon is a connective tissue
Tendon connects muscles
 

What is Ligament?

A ligament is a connective tissue that is known to join two different bones together. It is tough and elastic in nature. This tissue provides support to your joints and also restricts their movement.

Ligaments are present in a human body at positions like elbows, knees, ankles, shoulders, and various other joints. Any damage to the ligaments will make your joints unstable.

If your ligament faces an injury, the healing process takes a lot of time as there are very few blood vessels present in ligaments and tendons.

Due to the lack of vessels, the required nutrients and oxygen, which is responsible for the elevation of the healing process, are not able to reach the site of injury. Sometimes, in order to repair the damage, physical therapy or surgery is also considered.

Ligaments are of two kinds. One is a white ligament, which has collagen fibers in an ample amount. The other is the yellow ligament, which is found to be quite rich in elastic fibers. The yellow ligaments are found to provide elasticity even after being tough in nature.

You might also have heard of the sprain. This is something that gets caused by an overstretched ligament.

Ligament joins two bones together

Main Differences Between Tendon and Ligament

  1. Tendons are found to connect muscles to bone. They are located at the very end of muscles joining it to any bone.
    Ligaments are responsible for the joining of two bones with each other in the body.
  2. Tendons are quite tough and inelastic in nature. However, ligaments are also durable, along with possessing elasticity.
  3. Fibers in tendons are found to be present in parallel bundles that are compact in nature. However, in ligaments, fibers are packed in a compact manner but with no parallel orientation in them.
  4. Tendons are not divided in any subcategory, whereas ligaments are categorized in 3 forms – fetal remnant ligaments, articular ligaments, and peritoneal ligaments.
  5. White fibrous connective tissues form tendons. Ligaments are formed of yellow fibrous connective tissues.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Tendon and Ligament

  1. Do ligaments and tendons heal?

    If the ligaments and tendons get injured, then the healing process of these two is very slow as compared to the healing process of the other tissues.

    Such injuries are treated with the help of surgeries in the majority of cases.

  2. What helps ligaments heal faster?

    In the case of ligament fracture, an ice pack is preferred to be used in the initial 3 or 4 days of the injury.

    This is because ice helps in absorbing the pain and heals the injury portion. Thus this results in providing instant relief to the sufferer.

  3. What is an example of a tendon?

    The tendons are the two fibers that are used to connect the muscles to the bone.

    Some examples of tendons are the Achilles tendon which connects the calf muscles to the heel of the bone.

  4. Do tendons regenerate?

    The tendons do not regenerate. If the tendon has a partial tear, then it cannot regenerate by themself.

    It develops a scar tissue that is less elastic in nature and also has less functionality than the original tendon.

  5. How do I make my tendons stronger?

    A person can make his tendons stronger by lifting heavy weights and taking enough supplements in the diet.

    Also getting enough sleep is very important for making the tendons stronger.

  6. Do X-rays show tendon damage?

    X-rays are used to detect whether any crack or fracture is present in the bones. X-rays do not show any damage or torn tendon.

  7. What happens if a torn tendon is not repaired?

    If a torn tendon is not treated or repaired immediately, then this can result in the further deterioration of the joint and then finally making the overall structure weak.


 

Infographic

Tendon vs Ligament

 

Conclusion

Tendons and Ligaments are two important structures of the human body and are responsible for locomotion. Tendons connect muscles to a bone, while ligaments join one bone to the other bone.

Both come under Dense Granular Connective Tissues. As both the tissues have a lower amount of blood vessels, so they take a higher amount of time in recovering from a tear or injury.

Tendons are known to have flexibility while being sturdy. When a tendon gets torn due to overstretching of it, the condition is known as tendonitis. This condition causes the damaged area to get swelled.

 That particular muscle loses its working temporarily for the time it is being repaired. Ligaments are known to stabilize the joints. The overstretching of ligament also causes an injury. The tear in ligament causes a sprain to occur.

As ligament involves joints, the tearing of ligament is much more serious and painful than that of a tendon. The sprain usually goes away on its own with the proper amount of rest to the muscles.

However, sometimes it is so severe that surgery is to be considered in order to restore it back to its functionality.


 

Word Cloud for Difference Between Tendon and Ligament

The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Tendon and Ligament. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.

Word Cloud for Tendon and Ligament

 

References

  1. https://journals.lww.com/jbjsjournal/Abstract/1970/52010/Tendon_and_Ligament_Insertion__A_LIGHT_AND.1.aspx
  2. https://www.jci.org/articles/view/119537/files/pdf