14 Differences between Tendon and Ligament (With Table)

Both tendons and ligaments are fibrous bands of connective tissues. Both play a vital role in allowing movement and connecting the skeleton. 

Research shows that both are susceptible to injuries. These connective tissues display similar symptoms and require the same treatment. 

Injuries and old age make tendons and ligaments weaker. The weakness occurs due to a lack of blood vessels that help to nourishes the tissues. 

So, what is the main difference between tendon and ligament? A tendon connects muscles to bones whereas a ligament connects a bone to another bone. 

This article provides comprehensive differences between tendon and ligament in a tabular form. Take the time to read through it and get to know more about their similarities. 

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Comparison Table (Tendon Vs Ligament)

Basic Terms Tendon Ligament
Meaning Connect muscles to bones and they are common at the end of skeletal muscles Connect a bone to another bone and they are found at the joints.
Main Trait Inelastic and Tough Quite elastic and strong
Nature of Fibers Occur as compact packed parallel bundles. Occur as compact packed but not parallel.
Fibroblasts Occur in a continuous flow Are quite scattered.
Made of White fibrous connective tissue Yellow fibrous connective tissue.
Main Role Connect the end of muscles to the bones Connect bones to bones at a joint
Blood Supply Heavy supply of blood Poor supply of blood
Proteoglycan content Less more
Classification No classes Comprises of Articular ligaments, Remnant ligaments, and Peritoneal Ligaments

What Is A Tendon?

A tendon is the fibrous connective tissue that connects the muscles to the bones to enhance movement. These soft connective tissues tend to showcase flexibility and toughness features.

Sometimes these tissues get torn due to overstretching beyond their limit and result in inflammation in the affected area. This condition is known as tendonitis.

Some of the common symptoms portrayed by tendonitis are swellings, sores, and temporal loss of muscle function.

All in all, tendons help to enhance both skeletal and muscular movement among human beings as well as animals.

What Is A Ligament?

A ligament is a connective tissue that is tough and more elastic. It is meant to connect bones to bones at a certain joint.

The joint later result in all kinds of movement from simple to complex. Besides that, these connectors come in different shapes and sizes.

A sprain is a type of injury that occurs on overstretched and strain ligaments. The condition tends to be quite serious when compared to that of tendons.

Some of the common types of ligaments are articular ligaments, peritoneal ligaments, and fetal remnant ligaments.

Main Differences Between Tendon and Ligament 

  1. Tendon joint skeletal muscles to bones while ligament joint bones to another bone.
  2. Tendons are tough and inelastic while ligaments are strong and elastic.
  3. Tendons are made of white fibrous connective tissues while ligaments are made of yellow fibrous connective tissue
  4. Tendons have fibroblasts that tend to lie almost continuous flow while ligaments have fibroblast that is quite scattered.
  5. Fibers in tendons are seen as close compact in parallel bundles while ligaments are dense but not arranged parallel.
  6. The blood supply in tendons is good whereas the blood supply in ligaments is poor.
  7. Ligaments are classified into three classes such as articular ligaments, Remnant ligaments, and Peritoneal Ligaments while in tendons there are no such classes.
  8. Tendons are present at the end of skeletal muscles while ligaments are present around the joints.
  9. Injuries on ligaments are quite serious when compared to injuries on tendons.
  10. Ligaments are many per joint whereas tendon is usually one per muscle.
  11. Proteoglycan content in tendons is less whereas in ligaments are more 
  12. Ligaments have less collagen content whereas tendons have more collagen content 
  13. Fibers are densely arranged in ligaments whereas parallel arranged in tendons 
  14. Ligaments are more flexible whereas tendons are less flexible 

Similarities Between Tendons and Ligaments

  1. Both have connective tissue 
  2. Both have a dense granular connective tissue
  3. Both compose of living cells 
  4. Both contain collagen 
  5. Both are part of the musculoskeletal system.
  6. Both are prone to injuries 
  7. Both offer structural support and flexibility 

Frequently Asked Questions 

  • Is It Worse to Tear a Ligament or a Tendon?

Tendon. It will take months to heal since the diagnosis is quite serious. Tendon or ligament tearing refers to the ripping of fibrous tissue due to stretching. 

  • Are Tendons Stronger than Ligaments?

Ligaments are more elastic than tendons. They help to support body movement. 

  • Do Tendons and Ligaments Heal?

Yes. But the process of regeneration is quite slow though ligaments heal faster than tendons. 

  • Do X-rays Show Tendon Damage?

No. X-rays normally show damage to bones and joints. MRI can show damage to tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, and cartilage.

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Both ligaments and tendons help to support general body movement. However, these two connective tissues tend to differ in structure and functionality. The good news is that they play a vital role in movement within the joints of both human beings and animals.

More Sources and References

  1. Tendon. Wikipedia
  2. Tendon. Britannica
  3. What Are Ligaments? WebMD

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