Are you being sidelined from the running season by a nagging pain in your knee? Do you experience pain as soon as your feet hit the ground? Do you struggle with running at the same level as before? You could be suffering from Iliotibial Band Syndrome.
IT Band Syndrome, or ITBS, is one of the most common overuse injuries among distance runners and endurance athletes. In fact, it can account for as much as 22% of lower-leg injuries in the latter group. Many runners often mistake ITBS for other common knee injuries like a meniscus tear. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of what sets ITBS apart.
What is IT Band Syndrome?
The iliotibial band is a strong, thick band of connective tissue that starts at the hip and runs down your outer thigh. When you bend or extend your leg, the IT Band moves over the outer lower edge of the thighbone. A saclike structure called the bursa usually helps the IT band glide smoothly over the knee as you flex and stretch your leg. However, repetitive friction may irritate the IT band and bursa and cause them to swell. This leads to the pain known as IT Band Syndrome.
What are its symptoms?
Most people tend to attribute ITBS to common knee injuries. However, knee injuries usually feature swelling. The lack of external swelling can signify that pain is caused by ITBS, although as the condition progresses, swelling and redness on the outside of the knee may occur. Here are other symptoms associated with ITBS.
- Sharp or stinging lateral knee pain.
- Aching, burning feeling up the thigh or down the upper calf.
- Pain tends to feel worse as you strike your foot on the ground.
- Pain that is noticeable when you exercise, especially when you run.
However, as the condition worsens, the pain might start earlier and continue even after stopping exercise.
What causes ITBS?
Several factors raise your odds of getting ITBS, some within your control and some that are not.
- Not using the correct training techniques and not doing enough stretching such as warming up and cooling down.
- Running or training on banked surfaces.
- Wearing worn-out or non-supportive shoes.
- Overexertion and not resting enough between workouts.
- Poor control and weak muscles in the glutes and hips.
- Having lower limb length discrepancy
- Bowlegged-ness and excessive over-pronation.
How is ITBS diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider may perform a physical examination and compression test involving moving your knee and hip at angles to see if the pain is coming from the specific spot of the iliotibial band. If the diagnosis is unclear, they might perform imaging tests like an MRI or ultrasound to rule out other possible causes.
How is ITBS treated, and how can you prevent it?
Rest: Back off your mileage and take a rest from the activities causing you pain. Don’t exert your leg until the pain is gone and the IT band has healed.
Pain medications: You can take over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories like Ibuprofen and Naproxen. Talk with your healthcare provider regarding the correct dosages.
Manual and physiotherapy: A physiotherapist can teach you strengthening exercises to relieve pain and guide you with equipment such as foam rollers to loosen up your IT band and massage the thigh muscle.
Posture training: A physiotherapist can also guide you on how to carry your body as you go about your daily activities, especially when running and playing sports. It would also help to replace your shoes with a properly fitting and biomechanically-correct pair.
Proper technique: Avoid excessive downhill running and stay on the flattest part of the road to lessen the strain on the IT band. Train smartly by increasing your workout intensity or running distance incrementally.
With proper care and nonsurgical treatment, most patients can expect to get better in four to eight weeks. If your pain lingers for far longer, it may be time to talk to a pain management specialist in Singapore for evaluation and treatment.
At Pain SG, we have a team of multidisciplinary specialists equipped to help you deal with various conditions like hip joint pain, bursitis, and sacro-iliac joint pain. We have everything you need, from pain-relieving products to treatment options to eliminate your different body aches like heel pain, knee pain, and other ailments like frozen shoulder, back pain, and cervical headaches. You can call us for an appointment or send your queries to: email@example.com.