IT Band Syndrome: Symptoms and Treatment
IT band or iliotibial band consists of several fibers forming a thick band. It begins from the iliac crest in pelvis bone and ends at the tibia or shinbone. IT band stabilizes the knee while running and coordinates the functions of the muscles. It is attached to the tensor fascia latae and buttock or gluteal muscle fibers. IT band syndrome is caused by the inflammation of this thick band of fibers. When IT band is disturbed, the friction occurs while running or walking causes knee pain because of the inflammation. If the symptoms caused by IT band syndrome are ignored, then the inflammation increases and scarring of bursa in the area occurs.
Symptoms
The inflammation of iliotibial band is caused mainly by the overuse of the fibers, especially by long-distance or marathon runners. The inflammation is commonly caused by the decreased strength and poor flexibility of quadriceps muscles in the thigh.
Pain and swelling on the knee are the major symptoms of IT band syndrome. As the runners feel knee pain, they think that they are suffering from a knee injury. Most of the times, the pain is caused when your foot touches the ground and the pain will persist even after completing the activity. You may feel pain when you twist the knee for turning a corner. The patient might also feel a stinging sensation above the knee joint or along the iliotibial band. The patient may not feel the pain while doing activity, but it may increase over time.
If you would like to know whether the knee pain is caused by IT band syndrome or some other reasons, then you’ve to bend the knee at an angle of 45 degree. If you’re suffering from this disease, then the pain you feel will be on the external part of the knee.
Treatment
Pain will disappear mostly by stretching the band to make it flexible. The pain also goes off when the patient takes rest. In most runners, taking rest prevents pain and stops it from returning. If the patient does not take rest, then it will become chronic. However, you can do activities such as pool running, rowing, cycling, and swimming. Climbing stairs is strictly prohibited like running.
Ice or heat therapy helps to reduce pain and swelling of the affected area. Side stretches, electrical stimulation or ultrasound treatment will help to reduce pain. If your problem persists for several weeks, then you’ve to consult a doctor who is dealing with sports related injuries. Non-steroidal drugs can be used to control inflammation and pain. Cortisone injection will be given to break the scar tissue, which helps in speedy recovery. Cortisone injection has risks as it may weaken the tendons and ligaments. Surgery is the last and final resort of IT band syndrome, which brings back the mobility of the IT band fibers.
Once the symptoms are subsided, you can test your injured legs by running for a short distance. Extend the time of running until you’re not feeling pain on your limbs. Continue to strengthen your limbs after resuming training for preventing IT band syndrome.