Often experienced by runners, the iliotibial band (ITB) friction syndrome occurs when there is repetitive friction against the ITB – the long, thin band of fibrous connective tissue that runs along the outside of the thigh and – the bony prominence (lateral epicondyle of the femur) on the outside of the knee, usually when the heel strikes the ground.
- Usually attributed to altered biomechanics, sudden increase in training frequency or intensity, or a change in sporting surface.
- Other causes include weakness in the hip abductors, flat feet, bow-leg, leg-length discrepancy or overly tight muscles around the hips and knees.
Common Signs and Symptoms
- Pain on the outside of the knee. Usually increases with the activity even though there may be a pain-free start.
- The pain may radiate down the leg, or up towards the hip. As the syndrome progresses, there may even be pain on walking.
How Physiotherapy Can Help
A physiotherapist will be able to:
- Identify problematic areas such as muscular tightness and weakness contributing to altered running biomechanics.
- Provide pain-relief and restore hip and knee functions through providing soft tissue releases, ultrasound therapy and taping for pain relief, and specific exercises and stretches.
- Facilitate a graduated and pain-free return to sports within 6 weeks. The required recovery period will depend on the initial severity of the condition.
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