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Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)

Definition:

Iliotibial band syndrome is an injury characterized by inflammation of the iliotibial band, a thick band of fibrous tissue that begins at the hip and extends down the outside of the leg to the outer side of the shin bone (tibia) just below the knee joint.

Causes:
An excessively tight IT band, with repeated flexion and extension of the knee, can cause the distal iliotibial band to become irritated and inflamed. The IT band can also become irritated by trauma from poor form and training errors.
Symptoms:

The most common symptom is pain on the outer side of the knee. Initially, a sensation of stinging or needle-like pricks may be felt. Gradually, pain may be felt every time the heel strikes the ground and can become disabling. Some patients may feel a snapping or popping sound at the knee, and there may be some swelling. Occasionally, pain may radiate along the entire length of the band, up the outer side of the thigh to the hip.

Treatment:
  • Rest, ice and change in activity level or training schedule
  • Specific stretches to loosen tight structures.
  • Running technique and style assessment to uncover any underlying biomechanical cause. This may include gait analysis as well as flexibility and muscle strength assessment.
  • Orthotics or different shoes may be recommended to help correct imbalances or abnormalities.
  • If these measures fail, a corticosteroid may be injected into the inflamed area.