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In this lesson, you’ll learn about a specific type of connective tissue called fibrous connective tissue. You’ll also discover the other specialized fibrous connective tissues: tendons, ligaments and fasciae.

Connective Tissue

Have you ever wondered how our organs and bones don’t get damaged with all the running and jumping we do? The answer is connective tissue. Connective tissue is one of the four main tissue types; the others are epithelial tissue, muscle tissue and nervous tissue. Connective tissue includes tissues such as cartilage, bone, blood and fat. In this lesson, we’ll be specifically looking at fibrous connective tissue.

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The primary purpose of connective tissue is to hold our organs and other tissues together, as well as provide support for our body as a whole.

Fibrous Connective Tissue

One of the specific types of connective tissue is fibrous connective tissue, or FCT. This high-strength, slightly stretchy tissue consists mainly of collagen, a protein which is known for providing strength and stability. We find collagen just about everywhere that provides support for our body – our muscles, bones and skin are great examples.

The two other main components of FCT are water and polysaccharides, which are complex strands of carbohydrates, which also provide support. The primary purpose of fibrous connective tissue is to provide support and shock absorption to our bones and organs. The slide below is a histological section of fibrous connective tissue. The pink fibers you see running through the tissue are the collagen fibers.

Slide of connective tissue
Ligaments connect bone to bone and can be found in places such as the knee.
Leg Ligament Examples

There are three types of specialized fibrous tissue in our body which serve a specific purpose. The first is ligaments.

Ligaments are fibrous tissues that connect bones to other bones. Have you ever heard of someone damaging their ACL? ACL stands for the anterior cruciate ligament. The ACL combines with the posterior cruciate ligament, or PCL, as well as the medial and lateral collateral ligaments (MCL and LCL) to connect your femur to the tibia and fibula. Without these ligaments, you wouldn’t have a knee!

Tendons

Tendons, like the ones found in the shoulder, connect muscles to bones.

Shoulder Tendon Diagram

The second type of specialized FCT is tendons, which are also called sinew. Tendons connect muscle to bone.

Tendons and muscle work together in our bodies. The Achilles tendon is what connects your calf muscle, or gastrocnemius, to the bones in your foot and helps us be able to walk. There are several tendons in our shoulder that help create our rotator cuff, which allows us to rotate our arms. Just like we can ‘pull’ a muscle, we can damage the tendons in our body. Tendonitis refers to an inflamed tendon, which can be quite painful.

In extreme injuries, tendons can even tear – have you ever heard of someone tearing their rotator cuff? Ouch!

Fasciae

Fasciae in your back allows all the muscles to work together.
Back Fasciae

The final specialized type of fibrous connective tissue is fasciae (singular – ‘fascia’). Fasciae connect muscles to other muscles. In the areas of our body where we have a lot of muscles that work together, such as our backs or our shoulders, we need a tissue which connects them; that’s the purpose of fasciae. Have you ever strained a muscle in your back, and it seems like everything you do hurts? Anything from walking to bending to simply breathing can be painful. Thank you, fasciae! This specialized tissue connects all the muscles in the back together so they work as one unit.

This means that if you injure one, you are essentially injuring them all.

Lesson Summary

Remember that fibrous connective tissues are primarily made up of collagen; now you can see why structure and support are such crucial jobs for this tissue! There are three specialized types of fibrous connective tissue. Ligaments connect bones to other bones, tendons (or sinew) connect muscle to bones and fasciae connect muscles to other muscles.

Learning Outcomes

Following this video, you’ll have the ability to:

  • Describe the characteristics and functions of fibrous connective tissue
  • Differentiate between tendons, ligaments and fasciae and provide examples of each type of tissue

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