Tendons vs. Ligaments: What's the Difference?

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Key Difference

The key difference between tendons and ligaments is that the tendons are the connective tissues that connect muscles to the bones while ligaments are the connective tissues that connect bones to bones.

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Tendons vs. Ligaments

Human beings have a well developed and properly organised structure. There are 206 bones in the human skeleton. Our body has specific connective tissues that connect these bones. Tendons and Ligaments both are the forms of these connective tissues that are present at joints. Both tendon and ligaments are made up of fibrous connective tissues, but there is a number of differences that exist between them. Tendons are the fibrous connective tissues that attach muscles to bones while ligaments are the fibrous connective tissues that attach bones to bones at the joints. Tendons are tough and inelastic while ligaments are strong and elastic. Tendons are composed of white fibrous connective tissues while ligaments are composed of yellow fibrous connective tissues. In tendons, fibres are arranged in parallel bundles whereas ligaments have compactly arranged fibres that do not have parallel bundles.

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Comparison Chart

BasisTendonLigament
DefinitionTendon is a form of connective tissues that connect muscle to boneA ligament is a form of connective tissues that connect bones to bones.
Type of Connective TissuesIt is made up of fibrous connective tissues.It is also made up of fibrous connective tissues.
CompositionIt is composed of white fibrous connective tissues.It is composed of yellow fibrous connective tissues.
Arrangement of fibres.Fibres are arranged in parallel bundles in tendons.Fibres are compactly arranged in bundles and are not parallel.
FibroblastsFibroblasts lie in continuous rows in tendons.Fibroblasts are scattered in ligaments.
NatureTendons are tough and inelastic in nature.Ligaments are strong and elastic in nature.
InjuryA tear or stretch in the tendon is known as a strain.A tear or stretch in ligament is known as a sprain.
ClassificationTendon is not further classified.The ligament is further classified into fetal remnant ligaments, peritoneal ligaments and articular ligaments.
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What is Tendon?

Tendon is a form of connective tissues that are made up of white fibrous connective tissues and attaches muscles to bones. They connect end part of the muscle to any part of a bone and act as a connector between them.  Tendons have parallel arranged bundles of fibres and fibroblasts are present in continuous rows in the skeleton. Tendons form a tough and inelastic structure. They show little flexibility to help in movement. A .sudden fall or twist may cause a tear or stretch in tendon which is known as a strain. It causes swallowing and pain etc. at joint. A tendon may also connect muscles to other structures such as the eyeball.

Example

The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon of the body that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone.

What is Ligament?

A ligament is a form of connective tissues that are made up of yellow fibrous connective tissues and attaches bone to bone. It connects the end parts of two bones at the joint and acts as a connector or mediator between them. In ligaments, fibres are compactly arranged in bundles and do not show any parallel organisation. Fibroblasts are scattered in ligaments. Ligaments form a strong and elastic structure. They form a  more flexible structure to help in movement. An injury in ligament due to fall or twist etc. is known as a sprain. It also causes swallowing and pain etc. at joint. Ligaments are classified into; fetal remnant ligaments, peritoneal ligaments and articular ligaments. Fetal remnant ligaments are the ligaments that are present in the fetus. Peritoneal ligaments are the connective tissues that form the lining of the abdominal cavity. Articular ligaments connect one bone to another bone.

Example

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a ligament that attaches the thigh bone to the shinbone and stabilises the knee point.

Key Differences

  1. Tendon is a form of fibrous connective tissues that connect muscle to the bone while ligament is that form of fibrous connective tissues that connect bones to bones.
  2. Tendon is composed of white fibrous connective tissues whereas ligament is composed of yellow fibrous connective tissues.
  3. Fibres are arranged in parallel bundles in tendons, but ligaments have compactly arranged bundles of fibres.
  4. Fibroblasts lie in continuous rows in tendons while they are scattered in ligaments.
  5. Tendons are tough and inelastic in nature, but ligaments are strong and inelastic.
  6. Tendons are less flexible in nature while ligaments are more flexible .
  7. An injury in the tendon is known as a strain while an injury in the ligament is known as a sprain.
  8. Tendon is not divided into any type while ligaments are further divided into fetal remnant ligaments, peritoneal ligaments and articular ligaments.
  9. A tendon may also connect muscles to structures such as the eyeball while a ligament may also attach a bone to another bone.

Comparison Video

Conclusion

From the above discussion, it is concluded that tendon is a white fibrous connective tissue that is tough and inelastic in nature and joins muscles to the bone while ligament is yellow fibrous connective tissue that is strong and elastic and joins bone to bone.