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Iliotibial Band Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

The Iliotibial Band (ITB) is a thick band of tissue that runs from your hip down past your lateral knee. ITB friction syndrome is an overuse injury caused by repetitive friction of the iliotibial band across the lateral aspect of the knee. It has also been found that injury to the iliotibial band and related structures may be noted as lateral hip or lateral thigh pain, but more commonly as lateral knee pain.

So what are the signs you can watch for and if you do experience it, what can you do about it? The physical therapists at Baptist Health Therapy Centers have put together everything you need to know about ITB syndrome:

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS:

  • Sharp sometimes incapacitating lateral knee pain.   
  • Burning sensation on the lateral aspect of the knee.
  • Runs typically start out pain-free but after a certain time they become problematic.
  • May have pain while walking, ascending and descending stairs. 

CAUSES:

  • Overuse condition caused by the occurrence of an excessive amount of friction between the ITB itself and the lateral knee.
  • Tight hip and leg muscles, tight iliotibial band.
  • Bowleggedness.
  • Excessive overpronation.
  • Leg length differences.

TREATMENT:

  • Reduction in activity.
  • Oral anti-inflammatories (Ibuprofen/Naproxen).
  • Ice.
  • Lower extremity and ITB stretches.
  • Avoid running on crowned surfaces or too much running the same direction around a track.
  • Properly fit, biomechanically correct shoe.
  • Strengthen hip muscles.

IF SELF TREATMENT FAILS:

Physical therapy may be appropriate if injury doesn’t respond to self treatment in 1 to 2 weeks, which may include custom fabricated orthotics if appropriate.

If injury does not respond to physical therapy treatment, a referral to an orthopaedic physician may be appropriate for a cortisone injection into the ITB, or surgery to release the ITB may be indicated. 

ALTERNATIVE EXERCISES TO LESSEN THE STRESS ON THE LEG:

  • Swimming, pool running, cycling (in low gear).
  • Avoid any exercise that places strain onto the ITB, specifically, avoid stair-climbing. 

PREVENTION:

  • Stretching of the ITB, quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles.
  • Strengthening of quadriceps, hamstrings, hip and calf muscles.
  • Biomechanically correct shoes, specifically motion-control shoes and orthotics to correct overpronation.
  • Gradual progression of training program.
  • Avoid excessive downhill running, and stay on the flattest part of the road.
  • Incorporate rest periods into your training.

 

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