FAQ061: What is the difference between a tendon and a ligament?

Injuries to a tendon or a ligament are two common injuries we see in the Physiotherapy Clinic!

These are two types of tissues in the body that have a tendency to break down for different reasons. Injuries to a tendon lead to a tendinopathy. Injuries to a ligament lead to a sprain or a tear.

But what are the differences between the two?

Ligaments = Bone to Bone

Ligaments are bands of tissue that connect a BONE to a BONE. If you think about the ligaments on the side of the ankle, they connect the tibia (or shin) to the bones in the foot. This helps control where your ankle is in space. It keeps it stable. When we roll our ankle, like in an ankle sprain,  we injury one or more of the ligaments. We lose stability and getting it back is one of the physiotherapy goals that you will have. Want more information on the rehab process? Check out our video.

Tendon = Muscle to Bone

A tendon injury is generally referred to as a tendinopathy. These are OVERUSE types of injuries. A tendon is the end part of the muscle where it attaches onto the bone. This attachment is important because when our muscle contracts, it is the connection onto the bone that gets our limbs to move. We wouldn’t be going very far without them! So basically tendons are fibrous tissues that help our joints move. They are more flexible than ligaments are.

Tendons tend to be the weak point along a muscle. When we use our muscles, they break down and fray and we rebuild them. That is how strength training exercises work. But a tendon doesn’t repair as quickly. If we do too much, we get a lot of inflammation in the tendon and it results in an injury.

Check out our video and we hope that it helps you understand your injury. If you have any other questions, just let us know!


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Christina Prevett

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