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What Is the Difference Between a Ligament and a Tendon?

Organically, there is little difference between a ligament and a tendon. Chains of collagen cells from proteins stored in the body form them both.

Functionally, the ligament and tendon are different. A ligament connects a bone to another bone and acts like a shock absorber. Whilst a tendon serves as the anchoring point for groups of muscles, attaching the muscles to the bones. A tendon carries messages from the brain about movement. A ligament merely protects joints.

When injured, the ligament and tendon require different treatment and surgery. When a tendon is torn, the entire muscle group that it supports may fail to work well. When a tendon is repaired surgically, the tendon is reattached to the bone. This is followed by months of not using those muscles, this immobilization is then followed by rehabilitation to ensure that the new tendon attachment gains strength and the muscles become nourished through regular exercise. Six to eight weeks may be required for a severely torn tendon to heal and achieve minimal mobility.

A ligament requires orthopedic surgery to reattach the joint bones to the damaged ligament. An injection of a substitute material to increase protection and provide cushioning adding to the body’s own collagen that will replace the damaged ligament can also be administered. A ligament injury can take much less time to heal than a tendon injury. However, the ligament needs time for the injected collagen and the natural within the body to repair whatever it can.

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