Difference Between Tendon and Ligament

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Tendon and Ligament

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A tendon is a robust and rugged band of fibrous connective tissue that connects the muscle to the bone. It transmits the mechanical forces of muscle contraction to the skeletal system very well without sacrificing its capacity to hold significant amounts of stress. One thing that distinguishes ligaments from tendons is that they both contain collagen. The skeletal and muscular systems of the human body include ligaments and tendons. The connective tissue connects various bodily sections. In the human body, bones are joined to muscles by tendons, which resemble cords, and bones are joined to other bones by ligaments, which are elastic structures.

Both tendons and ligaments are considered to be dense-granular connective tissues that serve as links and anchors to different organs. They are made of live cells, include many collagen fibers, and are composed of tendons and ligaments.

Tendon vs. Ligament

  • The tendon connects a bone to a skeletal muscle, the primary distinction between a tendon and a ligament. The ligament is solely involved in the connection of two bones, though. While ligaments were discovered to be elastic and flexible, tendons are naturally rigid and inelastic. They are living cells that make up both the tendons and ligaments.
  • They are both considered to be dense granular connective tissues. A human body cannot attain the appropriate functioning of the muscular and skeletal systems without them.
  • Both ligaments and tendons are fibrous bundles of connective tissues formed of collagen; although sharing many characteristics with one other, they have distinct functions. A tendon performs a critical function in attaching skeletal muscles to the bones, whereas a ligament joins two bones together. Both the fibrous tissues are an integral part of the skeletal system and help to provide strength, stability, and movement to the body.

Difference Between Tendon and Ligament in Tabular Form

Parameter of comparison Tendon Ligament
Definition Muscles and bones are joined together by tendons as tissue.  The connective tissues, known as ligaments, link two bones.
Nature   Tendons lack elasticity and durability by nature.    A bone may move because of the elasticity and strength of the ligaments
Forms of Fibers  Tendons are observed to include parallel, compact bundles of fibers.   The fibers are discovered to be tightly packed in ligaments. However, there aren't any fiber bundles organized in a parallel fashion.
Classification  Tendons are not further divided into categories. Fetal remnant ligaments, articular ligaments, and peritoneal ligaments are the three categories into which ligaments fall.
Composition white connective tissue fibers yellow connective tissue fibers

What Is Tendon?

A particular kind of connective tissue called a tendon joins muscles to other bodily structures, often bones. The mechanical force of muscles is transferred to the bones through tendons. Compared to other soft tissues in our bodies, tendon connective tissues are pretty robust. The tissues that makeup tendon fibers and their parallel arrangement give them remarkable strength.

A tendon is made up of dense, fibrous connective tissue. Collagen fibers make up these hard tissues. Primary collagen fibers, regarded as the most fundamental component of a tendon, are created when several collagen fibrils link together.

These initial collagen fibers group together to form subfamilies, which group together once again to form bundles. Now, these installments are grouped to form tertiary fiber bundles. To create a tendon, these tertiary fiber bundles are bundled together.

Fibrocytes and fibroblasts are the two major cell types found in tendons. Tenoblasts, which are young spindle-shaped cells, are another name for fibroblasts. Tenocytes, another name for fibrocytes, likewise have a spindle-shaped structure.

What is a ligament?

A ligament is a connective tissue that binds two dissimilar bones together. Its nature makes it strong and flexible. Your joints are supported by this tissue, which limits how much mobility they can achieve. The human body has ligaments, including the elbows, knees, ankles, shoulders, and several other joints. Your joints will become unstable if the ligaments are damaged in any way. Because tendons and ligaments have so few blood vessels, the mending process might take a very long time when they are injured.

The absence of veins prevents the necessary nutrients and oxygen from reaching the injured site, which speeds up the healing process. Sometimes, physical therapy or surgery is also taken into consideration to treat the harm. There are two types of ligaments. One of them is a white ligament with many collagen fibers. On the other hand, the yellow ligament is shown to have a lot of elastic fibers. Despite their rough character, the yellow ligaments are shown to give flexibility.

You may also be familiar with the term "sprain." A ligament that is stretched too far might result in this.

Either collagen or elastic fibers, which are both produced by fibroblasts, make up ligament tissue. It may be divided into two varieties based on the type of fibrous tissue that makes up the majority of the ligament.

  • White ligament—These white ligaments are complex since they are made of solid collagen fibers. The anterior cruciate ligament is the name of these ligaments, often located in the knee joint.
  • Yellow ligament: Yellow ligaments are elastic fibers that are flexible and have certain elastic qualities. The ligamentum flavum of the vertebral column is where these yellow elastic ligaments are often located.

Main Difference Between Tendon and Ligament in Points

  • Ligaments connect one bone to another, whereas tendons join the bone to the muscle. This is the main distinction between ligaments and tendons. Tendons and ligaments are highly granular connective tissues that join and stabilize various organs. They include numerous collagen fibers and are composed of living cells. Fibrous connective tissue makes up tendons and ligaments.
  • The tendon connects muscles and bones. They are found at the very tip of any muscle that connects to a bone.
  • Ligaments are in charge of fusing two bones in the human body.
  • Tendons have a complex, inflexible character. However, in addition to being elastic, ligaments are also vital.
  • It has been discovered that tendons contain parallel, compact bundles of fibers. Although the fibers of ligaments are compactly packed, they lack a parallel alignment.
  • Tendons are not subdivided; however, fetal remnant ligaments, articular ligaments, and peritoneal ligaments are the three types of ligaments that are.
  • Tendons are composed of white fibrous connective tissues. Connective tissues with yellow fibrous structures make up ligaments.

Tendon and Ligament Structure

Ligaments and tendons both have tiny fascicles inside them. The fundamental fibril of the tendons or ligaments and fibroblasts are present in each bundle. The biological cell that creates tendons and ligaments is called a fibroblast.

The non-linear stress-strain relationship of ligaments and tendons largely depends on the fibril's crimp or waviness. Most tissues, including tendons and ligaments, comprise 70% water, 20% collagen, and 2% ground-up material. On the other hand, 70% of its dry weight is made up of collagen. A fibrous protein that increases tensile strength is collagen.

Collagen fiber arrangements differ across ligaments and tendons. Ligaments are organized into a random, loosely packed network but dense. The arrangement of tendon tissue is straight, parallel, and organized. This enables tendons to sustain significant uniaxial (unidirectional) tensile stresses during activity, in contrast to ligaments, which typically carry tensile loads in one direction and lessened tensile loads in other directions.

Things to Keep in Mind based on ligaments and tendons are:-

  1. Fibrous connective tissue makes up tendons and ligaments.
  2. Ligaments, which connect bones and joints, are cross-shaped bands.
  3. The tissue called a tendon connects a muscle to a bone.
  4. Most tissues, including tendons and ligaments, comprise 70% water, 20% collagen, and 2% ground-up material.
  5. Tendons and ligaments are highly granular connective tissues that join and stabilize various organs. They include numerous collagen fibers and are composed of living cells.
  6. Ligaments are colored yellow, whereas tendons are white.

Functions and Related Issues

  • Tendons are crucial to our body's mobility because they transmit force from the muscle to the bone. The body is covered in tendon tissue from the head to the neck and down to the feet. At times, a tendon may exert a force five times greater than our body weight. Our bodies' overuse and repetitive actions can occasionally lead to issues like tendonitis in the hands, biceps, shoulders, ankles, and knees. A blunt force and stretched or torn tendon fibers caused this ailment to emerge. It may result from several activities, including cleaning, playing golf, tossing balls, having poor posture, reckless exercise, etc.
  • Speaking of ligaments, these musculoskeletal structures are also seen as crisscrossing bands that join one bone to another. A knee, for instance, is made up of the femur, tibia, fibula, and patella (kneecap) bones. It hurts if one of the ligaments holding these two bones together is broken, so we search for ways to strengthen our knee ligaments. Because they cannot join and repair themselves by themselves, ligaments are not like bones. Long collagen fibers called ligaments are elastic muscular fibrous connective tissue bands. These may thus be stretched to increase flexibility. Still, suppose they are pushed past a certain point. In that case, the ligaments become overstretched and damage their integrity, which may result in issues like ligament rips that cause swelling, discomfort, inflammation, and bruising. Since injured ligaments can not regenerate independently, healing takes many weeks.
  • Both ligaments and tendons are exceptionally tough, and thick tissues are found close to joints. The term "joint" refers to the location where two bones unite. An injured tendon or ligament takes a long time to repair since they are both composed of collagen fibers, which are avascular, meaning they have difficulty receiving nutrition because they lack blood capillaries. Despite many functional similarities, we can distinguish between a ligament and a tendon based on several different factors. We shall differentiate and contrast tendons and ligaments in more detail.

How do Ligaments and Tendons Work?

  • Tendons—Because they convey force from the muscle to the bone, tendons are crucial to the movement of our bodies. The body is covered in tendons from the head to the neck and down to the feet. A tendon's force might be up to five times more than our body weight. Overusing and repeatedly using certain body parts, such as our hands, biceps, shoulders, ankles, and knees, can lead to tendonitis. Tendonitis is brought on by blunt force and strained or ruptured tendon fibers. This issue can also be brought on by cleaning, playing golf, throwing balls, having poor posture, exercising carelessly, and other activities.
  • Ligaments are specialized connective tissues with unique biomechanical properties. Collagen fibers make up the majority of ligaments. These fibers are highly resilient to pulling or compressing pressures, flexible, and strong. The typical arrangement of individual collagen fibers into parallel bundles increases their strength. Collagen bundles link the periosteum. This outer layer covers all bones. A ligament's structure and physiology are significantly altered when it is injured. Scar tissue is produced as a result and is less physiologic and biomechanically sound than the tissue it replaces.


Ligaments and tendons are two crucial components of the human body that enable movement. While ligaments unite one bone to another, tendons attach muscles to a bone. The term "Dense Granular Connective Tissues" refers to both. Both these issues require more time to heal after a rip or damage because they have fewer blood vessels than other tissues.

Tendons are renowned for being both flexible and robust. Tendonitis is a disorder that occurs when a tendon tears from overstretching it. This disease results in swelling of the affected region. For the brief period it is being healed, that specific muscle temporarily loses its functionality. Ligaments are thought to keep joints stable. An injury also results from ligament overstretching. A torn ligament brings on a sprain.

The ripping of a ligament is far more dangerous and painful than a tendon since it affects joints. With the right amount of muscular rest, the sprain typically resolves independently. But occasionally, the damage is so severe that surgery may be necessary to restore it.


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


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"Difference Between Tendon and Ligament." Diffzy.com, 2024. Fri. 19 Apr. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-tendon-and-ligament-1037>.

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