Ligaments are short strands of fibrous connective tissue rich in collagen (almost 80%), representing an extremely solid structure with multiple functions.
Among other functions, ligaments connect bones across joints, but they do not attach bones to muscles, as tendons carry out this function. Certain ligaments are responsible for joint stability, avoiding false movements. This protects the integrity of joints when there is a sprain, and prevents dislocations when there is a forced movement (hyperflexion or hyperextension). Notably, there is a complex system of eight ligaments that reinforces the knee bones to form a very resistant joint capsule.
Ligaments also serve to attach several organs to the abdominal wall and join other organs with each other, such as the stomach and the spleen.
Moreover, ligaments are very important for the action of chewing food, enabling and facilitating the movement of teeth and jawbones. As collagen decreases with age, our ligaments lose their resistance and their flexibility, which can cause a frequent sensation of stiffness in our joints.
Ankles, knees and wrists are the most vulnerable joints in terms of ligament injuries and common sprains. These are generally caused by stretching or tearing one or more joint ligaments.
The major symptoms of a sprain are pain, swelling and difficulty to move the joint.