What are Tendons and Ligaments?

Tendon and ligaments are extremely important assets to the body. They are connective bands of tissue that help the body move and keep its balance. Tendons have the job of connecting muscles to bone, while ligaments connect bones to other bones. When tendons or ligaments are overstretched or torn, a serious injury may occur, often affecting the lower extremities of the body.

Risk Factors

There are certain risks factors that may lead to one developing a tendon or ligament injury, one of which being overuse. If improper technique is practiced, or the difficulty level of an activity is severely increased, a patient may experience symptoms of overuse. Overuse typically causes tenderness or stiffness to the affected area, injuring the tendons and ligaments. Trauma and twisting the tendon or ligament in an awkward position may also lead to injury. These types of injuries are often common among athletes, as they partake in activities where these risk factors are more likely to occur.

Common Tendon Injuries

One common type of tendon-related injury is known as tendonitis. This condition may occur when the tendon becomes inflamed or irritated. Trauma, strain, as well as overuse are common causes of tendonitis. Those affected with this condition may notice the affected area become swollen, painful, and warm to the touch. It is common for this condition to develop gradually over the course of a few months. Another common tendon injury often involves the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body. It connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. Running, jumping, and walking all impact this tendon. The most common injuries that can trouble the Achilles tendon are tendon ruptures and Achilles tendinitis. Achilles tendinitis is the milder of the two injuries. It can be recognized by the following symptoms: inflammation, dull to severe pain, an increased flow of blood to the tendon, thickening of the tendon, and slower movement time. Tendinitis can be treated via several methods and is often diagnosed by an MRI.

Common Ligament Injuries

One of the most common ligament injuries is a sprain. A sprain may occur when a ligament is torn or overstretched, often affecting the ankles. It can be treated non-surgically with a combination of rest, ice wrapped around the joint for 30 minutes immediately after injury, compression by a bandage and elevating the ankle above the heart for 48 hours. This combination is referred to as RICE. Severe ankle sprains in which the ligaments are torn may require reconstructive surgery followed by rehabilitation. Bursitis is another common injury in which the ligament and surrounding tissue may become bruised. This condition often causes inflammation due to extreme overuse or stress.

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