Ligaments are bands of tough, fibrous tissue that connect bones to other bones. Their primary purpose is to provide stability and allow for a wide range of motion at the joints.
Without ligaments, our joints would be much less stable, and we would not be able to move as freely. There are four main types of ligaments:
- Collateral ligaments: stabilize the joint by connecting the bones on either side of it.
- cruciate ligaments: found in the knee joint; they cross each other to keep the knee stable.
- patellar ligament: connects the kneecap (patella) to the shinbone (tibia).
- Suspensory ligaments: found in the shoulder and elbow joints; they keep the bones in place and allow for a greater range of motion.
Ligaments are made up of collagen, a protein that gives them strength and flexibility. Ligament injuries occur when the ligament is stretched or torn beyond its normal range of motion.
This can happen suddenly, as in the case of a sports injury, or gradually over time, as with age-related wear and tear. When ligaments are injured, they can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness.
In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the damage.