What Is a Ligament in the Body?

What is a ligament in the body?

Ligaments are tough bands of tissue around your joints. Ligaments connect bone to bone, support the joints and perform other functions.
Ligaments are tough bands of tissue around your joints. Ligaments connect bone to bone, support the joints and perform other functions.

Ligaments are short bands of tough elastic tissue present around your joints. They mainly connect the bones of the body. The human body has approximately 900 ligaments. The main functions of the ligaments are 

  • Connect bone to bone
  • Support the joint.
  • Limit the movement of the joints
  • Stabilize the joints
  • Prevent the bones in the joint from over-twisting and stretching
  • Keep the internal organs in place
  • Connect two or more organs
  • Prevent the bending, twisting, or tearing of blood vessels or gland ducts running through them
  • Help maintain stability in the body
  • Feel and sense the position, location, and orientation of the body and its parts

Where are ligaments present in our body?

The ligaments are present at various sites in the body mainly in the knee, elbow, shoulder, and ankle. Some of the main ligaments are described below

  • Knee ligaments: There are four chief ligaments connecting your femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shinbone), which include
    • An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL): It is located toward the front of the knee and controls forward movement and rotation of the tibia.
    • A posterior cruciate ligament (PCL): It is located toward the back of the knee and controls the backward movement of the tibia.
    • A medial cruciate ligament (MCL): It is located inside the knee and provides stability to the area.
    • Lateral collateral ligament (LCL): It is located outside the knee and provides stability.
  • Elbow ligaments: There are two main ligaments around the elbow
    • Ulnar collateral ligaments: It runs along the inner side of the elbow.
    • Lateral collateral ligaments: It runs along the lateral (outer side) side of the elbow.
  • Shoulder ligaments: The ligaments in the shoulder connect the humerus (upper arm bone) to the scapula (shoulder blade). They also connect the clavicle, or collarbone, to the top of the shoulder blade.
  • Ankle ligaments: The three main ligaments present in the ankle include
    • Anterior talofibular ligament: It connects the talus (a bone in the foot) to the fibula (the outer bone in the leg).
    • Posterior talofibular ligament: Similar to the anterior talofibular ligament, it also connects the talus to the fibula.
    • Calcaneofibular ligament: It connects the fibula to your heel bone.

What are the common ligament injuries?

Some of the most common ligament injuries include

  • Knee ligament injuries, such as
    • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear
    • Medial cruciate ligament (MCL) or lateral collateral ligament (LCL) sprain
    • Patella (knee cap) dislocation
  • Ankle ligament injuries, such as
    • Ankle sprain
    • Achilles tear or rupture (disruption of tissues connecting muscle to bone [tendons] just above the back of the heel)
  • Shoulder ligament injuries, such as
    • Shoulder dislocation
    • Acromioclavicular (AC) joint injury
    • Rotator cuff tear (a tear in the tendons around the shoulder joint)
  • Wrist and hand ligament injuries, such as
  • Spinal ligament injuries, such as
    • Neck sprain
    • Back ligament sprain
    • Whiplash (neck injury due to forceful back and forth movement of the neck)
    • Text neck (repeated stress injury and pain in the neck due to excessive watching or texting on hand-held devices)

How do ligaments tear?

Twisting body parts or hard or awkward landings are the most common causes of ligament tear. Some other causes include

  • Stretching a ligament fully and then encountering some form of trauma
  • Running or walking awkwardly
  • Contact sports such as hockey, football, basketball, and tennis

There are three grades of ligament tear, which include

  • Grade 1 or a mild ligament tear
  • Grade 2 or a moderate ligament tear
  • Grade 3 or a complete ligament tear or rupture


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