ITB Syndrome

I’ve had a few patients recently who have come in to me with knee pain.  It may have something to do with treating runners from the Wasatch Back Ragnar relay.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS).  A syndrome is a group of symptoms that do not have a single cause, but together indicate a particular disorder.  That means that ITB is not a specific diagnosis, of a single torn ligament or something.  So treatment will vary from person to person.  You will have to find out what works for you.

ANATOMY.  The Iliotibial band is a band of tissue that connects the crest of your hip to the tibia (bottom bone of the knee joint).  That includes muscles and tendons.  In that regard the IT band attaches to or touches to the whole lateral side of your thigh and knee, top and bottom.  The main muscle is the Tensor Fascia Lata which serves to lift your leg sideways or laterally.  That’s not a motion that you do all the time, but it is very important in stabilizing all of your other leg motions.  When you bend your knee this band rubs over bone at the outside of the knee.

SYMPTOMS from ITBS can occur above the knee or below, or up the outside of the thigh.  You get inflammation above the knee from the ITB rubbing over that bone, or below the knee at the attachment to the tibia if it tries to pull away at that point, or up the thigh if you tear at that point.  Running on sloped tracks or roads or with bad shoes or changing shoes, or increasing workout intensity can all contribute to ITBS.

INITIAL TREATMENT takes patience.  Basically you need time without a flare up to heal.  That means resting it, no real running for about a month, lots of ice.  You can stretch, tape, massage, get chiropractic adjustments, and do all sorts of other things to help, but basically you’re body has to heal.  During this time you’ll want to keep moving and stretching to maintain your range of motion and flexibility, but don’t aggravate it.  After the month off you will have to start slow running 5-10 min a day then increasing your time slowly over weeks, not days.

CONTINUED TREATMENT is the real key.  You’ve discovered that your ITB is weak and tight.  You need to strengthen it and get a proper balance of muscle tone and flexibility.  Otherwise you will re-injure.  There are too many ways to achieve this to list here, but see your chiropractor for some ideas for you.


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