ITB or Iliotibial band syndrome is an injury to the thigh as a result of running, hiking, cycling or weight-lifting. It is a common condition affecting athletes and other people employing the said activities. Iliotibial syndrome is also called the “runner’s knee” because of its association to running. ITB syndrome is one of the most common causes of pain on the knees.
The iliotibial band is a thickened tissue on the outer layers of the thigh extending from the pelvis up to the knee. The iliotibial band is responsible for supporting and stabilizing the knee during knee joint motions such as walking and running. Repeated flexion and extension of the knee joint along with frequent rubbing of the ITB over the femur may cause the band to inflame and swell leading to iliotibial band syndrome.
Symptoms of ITB Syndrome
ITB syndrome produces signs and symptoms such as:
- Stinging sensation on the knees
- Swelling of the band over the thighs, which causes appearance of swelling on the thigh area
- Pain along the thighs and knees that become severe when the foot strikes the floor
Causes of ITB Syndrome
The causes of ITB are vast including:
- Frequent running
- Excessive downhill or uphill running
- Inadequate warm-up and cool-down during activities
- Excessive angle of the feet during cycling
- Hiking long distances
- Having a low or high foot arches
- Over-pronation of the feet
- Supination of the foot
- Uneven length of the legs
- Bow legged (because of excessive tightness in the ITB)
- Poor muscle strength and flexibility of leg muscles
Treatment for ITB Syndrome
ITB syndrome involves conservative management and seldom requires invasive procedures such as surgery. ITB is an acute condition that eventually resolves over time. Common managements include:
RICE stands for Rest, ICE, Compression and Elevation. These managements are the first aid treatment for iliotibial band syndrome. Resting prevents further injury, icing reduces swelling and pain, compression also reduces swelling and elevation improves venous return from the legs thereby reducing leg swelling.
- Foot Orthotics
Orthotics for the foot can be used to control the medial rotation of the foot, which also reduces the rotation of the thighs and knees. Excessive rotation of the knees causes friction on the ITB leading to further pain. Your local Wesley Chapel chiropractor can discuss this option and provide you with custom orthotics as well.
- Anti-inflammatory medications
Medications such as naproxen, aspirin and ibuprofen can be used to reduce inflammation and pain. When non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are not effective, oral corticosteroids can be given.
The knees are usually taped using the McConnells’s taping technique. This employs the pulling of the knee medially and taping the bottom half of the patella. This management prevents inadvertent knee movement that can further cause injury to the ITB.
- Compression wrapping
The IT band compression wrap places a wrap on the tendon on the knees to mobilize the ITB without causing pain.
Several activities and sports should be avoided when ITB syndrome is present to prevent further injury to the band. Activities to be avoided include running, climbing, squatting, soccer, basketball, tennis, bowling, karate, skating, cycling, wrestling, dancing, and gymnastics. Other activities requiring repetitive motions on the knees should also be prevented.
When ITB syndrome is not treated promptly, it can cause severe pain and limitation in leg motion. Prevention is essential by engaging in proper training before vigorous activities.