You often hear the reason a music band breaks up is because the members start irritating each other. When the group no longer performs, it’s a painful reality to their fans. Well, guess what? You have a band in your body that can get irritated, affecting its performance and resulting in pain. It’s called your IT band and its job is to provide stability to your hip and knee, as well as protect these joints against dislocation.
The IT (iliotibial) band is a thick grouping of fibrous tissue that runs along the outside of your thigh. Sometimes this band can become inflamed due to overuse and irritation from rubbing against bone with every flex of the hip or knee. When this occurs, it’s called IT band syndrome—a painful yet treatable condition.
A Chorus of Causes
Overuse is the main reason behind IT band syndrome, which is particularly common in runners—especially marathoners—as well as cyclists, tennis players, and others who participate in aerobic activities. Poor biomechanics and weak or unbalanced muscle strength can also contribute to the problem. Certain body structures can be vulnerable as well, including those with bowed legs, a tilted pelvis, or leg length discrepancies. Always training the same way can aggravate the IT band as well. For instance, if you run the same direction on a track, or on a road that slants, more stress will consistently be placed on one leg over the other.
Knee pain is the primary symptom since the inflamed band rubs against the lateral part of the joint each time it bends. It may also radiate up your leg and affect your outer hip as well. You may feel like the band is snapping back and forth over the joints. The discomfort typically diminishes when the leg is extended, or when you are at rest, because the band becomes more flexible and is less stressed. Symptoms will progress if left alone, so prompt treatment is critical.
Setting the Stage for Treatment
Rest is essential to recovery. Take a break from your normal activities and try some lower impact ones instead—cycling or swimming are good options. You should also elevate your leg whenever possible. A switch to shoes that provide proper support, along with custom orthotics, can alleviate symptoms as well. Ice packs and anti-inflammatory medications can help with pain and swelling, too, and stretching exercises are especially beneficial.
A Gig at Castle Pines
The experts at Castle Pines Physical Therapy can assess your problem and determine if there is an underlying biomechanical issue causing it. A gait analysis, as well as tests for flexibility and muscle strength, will provide needed information to develop a treatment program. Typically this involves stretching and strengthening exercises, ultrasound therapy, and lessons in proper training techniques. If all else fails, corticosteroid injections can help, and surgical procedures do exist.
To prevent knee pain caused by IT band syndrome from reoccurring, it is important to continue with stretching, make sure you have supportive and appropriate shoes, and practice correct training techniques. We can help you return to the same level of activity as you enjoyed prior to the injury—music to your ears! So give Dr. Jennifer Molner a call at (303) 805-5156 to schedule an appointment and get back to your natural rhythm.
Photo Credit: Marin via FreeDigitalPhotos.net