Anyone who has read any of our articles has probably seen us use the words ligament and tendon. Or they may have seen the word musculoskeletal sprinkled about. Some astute readers may have even noticed that our newer articles use the spelling “orthopedic” and some of the older ones spell it “orthopaedic.” In this article we will try to help define some terms and explain why others have multiple spellings.

To”A” or Not To “A”

Let’s first start with the confusion between orthopedic and orthopaedic. The original spelling of the word was a joining of two Greek terms. The Greek word “orthos,” meaning straight or correct, and the word “paidon,” meaning child, were put together to form the word orthopeadic (with the “a”). The British and most people in academia like keep things formal so they usually choose to keep the original spelling. Americans tend to like to keep the spelling of words as easy as possible, so we have removed the “a” and spell the term “orthopedic”. Most computer spell checks only recognize the word without the “a,” but Google accepts the spelling either way. No matter how you spell it, the word now technically means the correction of deformities to bones and spine in people of any age.

Musculoskeletal Means A Lot

We have written many times about the “musculoskeletal system”, but what exactly does that mean. Just looking at the word gives us a clue that it must mean the system of bones and muscles in the body, but its more than that. The musculoskeletal system is what lets you get up in the morning and keeps you moving throughout the day. It’s also what helps you stay put when you don’t want to move when riding an elevator or on a windy day. The bones and muscles keep you up and moving while cartilage keep your joints from scraping against each other. Those joints are held together and kept stable by the tendons and ligaments.

Is It A Tendon Or A Ligament?

Now that we know tendons and ligaments keep our joints in one place, we need to know what they are. A ligament is a strong tissue that connects one bone to another, like rope connecting the mast and crossbeams together on a boat. A tendon is a very strong piece of tissue, sometimes called a sinew, that connects a muscle to a bone, like a rope connecting the mast and sails together.

It’s Much Easier If You Spell It “IBJI”

Whenever any of these parts of the body are affected by an injury, illness, condition, or disease an orthopedic physician is the best person to treat it. At the Illinois Bone and Joint Institute the doctors and surgeons are very experienced at treating orthopedic problems, both surgically and non-surgically.  If you have pain in any of your joints or bones, or have experienced a sudden injury like a broken bone, make an appointment today. No matter how you spell it, IBJI is your best choice for orthop(a)edic care.

Related Article:
Orthopedic Doctors: When should I see an orthopedic physician?


This information is not intended to provide advise or treatment for a specific situation. Consult your physician and medical team for information and treatment plans on your specific condition(s).