Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)
One of the more common causes of knee pain, especially in those who tend to run a lot, is Iliotibial band syndrome. This is a condition that limits range of movement, and it causes sufferers quite a bit of pain. The Iliotibial band is a thick band of fibrous tissue. This tissue goes down the outside of the leg, starting at the hip and ending at the outside of the shin bone. The IT band works with the quadriceps muscle and other thigh muscles to ensure that there is stability for the knee, which can easily be injured, even just by repetitive movements. When there is irritation in the IT band, it is often referred to as Iliotibial band syndrome.
What Causes ITBS?
This is a common condition for people who increase the amount of activity they participate in. A good example of this is people who are involved in sports. If they usually only play on the weekends, but add extra games or practices during the week, this can bring on Iliotibial band syndrome. It can also be caused when people have an improper gait, which can often be corrected with orthotic devices. Other causes can include having legs that are different lengths, overpronation (people who walk on the outsides of their feet), and obesity, which puts a lot of pressure on the entire body, particularly the knees, hips and ankles.
What are the Symptoms?
Usually, the irritation is noticed on the outside of the knee, at the lower end of the thigh bone (the femur). This is where the Iliotibial band crosses paths with bone and muscle, and the motion is supposed to be a smooth one. When a person has Iliotibial band syndrome, the motion is far from smooth because the area is inflamed. This inflammation is usually accompanied by pain, which can range from mild to severe, depending on the severity of the Iliotibial band syndrome. This pain often increases the more the person moves around, and decreases when the person is stationary.
What is the Treatment?
There are a variety of ways to manage the pain due to ITBS:
Use Proper Footwear - Because this is a condition that is often caused by the way a person walks, one of the most common options to help reduce pain is wearing the proper footwear. This may mean having orthopedic devices or shoes specially made, but it is worth it if it will help a person to avoid pain in the knees.
Ice - Cold therapy can help reduce pain and swelling.
Stretching & Exercises - The best results are often found with exercises and stretches that help loosen up the IT Band. Follow these 3 exercises to prevent IT Band issues or visit your physical therapist or sports trainer for additional exercises.
Brace - A knee brace for your IT band can help support and relieve pressure in the area while you look to continue activity.
Medication - Some physicians may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen, and, in severe cases, cortisone shots may be necessary.
If you are suffering from knee pain, and think that it may be caused by ITBS, visit your doctor. It is important to be properly diagnosed for ITBS so you can follow the proper treatment plan in relieving your knee pain and continue your active lifestyle.