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Muscle, Ligaments and Tendons


Spine modelMuscle is contractile tissue grouped into coordinated systems for greater efficiency. In humans the muscle systems are classified by gross appearance and location of cells. The three types of muscles are striated (or skeletal), cardiac, and smooth (or nonstriated).

  1. Striated muscle is almost exclusively attached to the skeleton and constitutes the bulk of the body’s muscle tissue. The multinucleated fibres are under the control of the somatic nervous system and elicit movement by forces exerted on the skeleton similar to levers and pulleys.
  2. The rhythmic contraction of cardiac muscle is regulated by the sinoatrial node, the heart’s pacemaker. Although cardiac muscle is specialized striated muscle consisting of elongated cells with many centrally located nuclei, it is not under voluntary control.
  3. Smooth muscle lines the viscera, blood vessels, and dermis, and, like cardiac muscle, its movements are operated by the autonomic nervous system and thus are not under voluntary control. The nucleus of each short tapering cell is located centrally.

Muscle Splinting: Acute tensing of muscles as a response to pain and as a protection against further injury. It usually occurs at the time of injury or stress.

Muscle Spasm: Persistent increased tension and shortness in a muscle or group of muscles that cannot be released voluntarily. It also prevents lengthening of the muscles involved.

Functions of Muscles

The main function is to allow movement. When muscles contract, they contribute to gross and fine movement. These movements may include walking, running, swimming, writing, speaking and facial movement. Also muscle stretch over joints and contribute to joint stability. The muscle tendons in the knee joint and the shoulder joint are crucial in stabilization.

Skeletal muscles help keep the body in the correct position when someone is sitting or standing. Breathing involves the use of the diaphragm muscle. Smooth muscles in the gastrointestinal or GI tract control digestion. The GI tract stretches from the mouth to the anus.


Skeletal ligaments are defined as dense bands of collagenous tissue (fibres) that span a joint and then become anchored to the bone at either end. When injured, play a larger role in instability of a functional unit than the tendon.

Capsular ligaments are the main stabilising structures of the facet joints in the cervical spine and have been implicated as a major source of chronic neck pain. Capsular ligaments are related to cervical stability, when damaged, these ligaments lose their strength and are unable to support the cervical spine properly. When the capsular ligaments are injured, they become elongated and exhibit laxity, which causes excessive movement of the cervical vertebrae.

In the upper cervical spine (C0-C2), this can cause a number of other symptoms e.g. nerve irritation and vertebrobasilar insufficiency with associated vertigo, tinnitus, dizziness, facial pain, arm pain, and migraine headaches. In the lower cervical spine (C3-C7), this can cause muscle spasm, crepitation, and/or paresthesia and in addition to chronic neck pain.

Function of ligaments may include

  • Maintain spinal segments in proper joint congruency
  • Allow adequate physiological motion between segments
  • Protects neurological structures from forces within normal segmental ROM
  • Resist high speed, high load forces that would cause injury to the spinal cord
  • Limits freedom of movement by being a static restraint
  • Absorbs large amount of energy when loads are suddenly applied
  • Provides proprioceptive feedback


A tendon is a fibrous connective tissue which attaches muscle to bone. Tendons may also attach muscles to structures such as the eyeball. A tendon serves to move the bone or structure. Tendons are remarkably strong, having one of the highest tensile strengths found among soft tissues

Spinal tendonitis: A tendon is a band of connective tissue that attaches bones to muscles. Hence it is necessary for tendons to be tough and fibrous. Tendonitis, sometimes referred to as tendinopathy, describes inflammation of a tendon or tendons. Inflammation is usually resultant from overexertion or overuse. Healing from tendon injury is gradual due to the limited blood circulation. Spinal tendonitis could cause enlargement of the inflamed tendon and surrounding tissue → pressure on a nerve or nerves.

Function Of Tendons

  • Transmit the force from its connected muscle to the bone. Consequently, the tendon needs to have sufficient tensile strength
  • Provide stability to the body’s frame and also a bit of cushioning by acting as springs around relevant structures.
  • In the spine, the tendons synergise with muscles to facilitate weight-carrying, flexing, extension, and rotation

Chiropractic care and it’s relationship with muscle, ligaments and tendon

  • Recovery from the acute/chronic injury.
  • Strengthen injured and/or non- injured muscles which helps to take stress off injured joints and nerve pressure.
  • Chiropractic enables splinting to dissipate through correcting nervous system imbalances.
  • Reduces inflammation and pain in the joints.

Chiropractors also focus on the intimate relationship between the nervous system and spine and hold true the biomechanical and structural derangement of the spine can affect the nervous system. For many conditions, chiropractic treatment can restore the structural integrity of the spine, reduce pressure on the sensitive neurological tissue, and consequently improve the health of the individual. The goal of chiropractic is to re-establish normal spinal mobility, which in turn alleviates the irritation to the spinal nerve and/or re-establishes altered reflexes.

Chiropractors aim is to locate, analyse and correct those joint dysfunction or misalignments which helps to restore the normal function of the spine. Regular adjusting helps to increase the movement in the joint, reducing the tension in the surrounding muscles and conserve the body energy as the muscles are getting used more efficiently.