Focus on Runners Knee

We thought it was about time we did another condition based blog, so this time, we're going to look at Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS), which is also known as Runner's Knee. Lets's start with a little anatomy...

What is the Iliotibial Band?

The Iliotibial Band (ITB) is often looked at as a source of pain to the side of the knee. Let's look at the basics of what it is and where it is first: the ITB is a thick band of fascia that runs down the outside of the thigh. The ITB blends with the Tensor Fascia Lata (TFL) and Gluteus Maximus muscles to attach into the crest of the ilium, commonly known as the wing of the pelvis, and at the other end attaches into the outside of the knee through the tibia (shin bone). The ITB works to stabilise the knee whilst it is extended and partially flexed and thus is used constantly during walking and running.

What is Iliotibial Band Syndrome?

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) is often referred to as an overuse injury but its origins can be due to multiple causes. Activities that cause repeated flexion and extension of the knee can cause the ITB to rub on a lump of bone in the hip and create friction which in turn, creates inflammation and tissue damage.

ITBS can also be due to a lack of strength in specific muscle groups of the leg, the hip abductors, due to altered hip and knee postures which increase the load on the ITB. The syndrome can also be due to a sudden increase of activity, inflammation of other structures underlying the band, or a combination of all aspects.

The main symptom of ITBS is a sharp pain that is felt on the outside edge of the knee, especially when the heel strikes the floor, that can radiate into the outer thigh or calf muscle. The pain tends to be worse when running or walking downstairs. Sometimes there is a snapping sensation as the band flicks over a bony tubercle and often there is swelling on the outside of the knee. Runners will find they get pain over the outside of the knee during running that increases in intensity when running downhill or over long distances.

What can you do about it?

Treatment aims to reduce inflammation, redress the balance of weak or tight muscles and any postural issues there may be, along with looking at strength and balance exercises to support the muscles associated with the ITB. It is often beneficial to modify your activity whilst the pain is bad, for example stop running but use other forms of exercise like swimming to help retain fitness levels.

Nene Valley Osteopathy uses a combination of osteopathic treatment, acupuncture, kinesiotaping and ultrasound if appropriate to help you control your pain. Do get in touch if we can help you either with treatment or further advice.

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