The iliotibial band is a ligament that runs from the pelvis down the outside of the thigh to the knee and its purpose is to stabilise the knee joint. When this band experiences strain from too much pressure or overuse, iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) can develop. This is an inflammatory condition that tends to affect runners and those who regularly take part in high-impact sports or exercise, and it causes pain that radiates from the outer knee. Here's an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment approach for ITBS:
Common symptoms of ITBS aside from knee pain include tightness down the outer thigh and swelling around the knee. Symptoms tend to be exacerbated by running or landing hard on your feet, while resting the affected leg will bring some relief from the pain. Without treatment, ITBS symptoms will intensify until you feel intense pain each time you take a step.
Diagnosis And Treatment Approach
ITBS is diagnosed and treated by a sports podiatrist. They will take details of your symptoms and carry out an examination of your knee and leg, which may include palpating the leg and gently manipulating it to gain an understanding of whether your range of movement is affected. If they have any doubts about the cause of your symptoms, you will be offered an MRI scan to ensure there's no structural damage present in your leg that could be caused by a different condition or injury, such as torn cartilage.
Your podiatrist will put together a treatment plan based on the severity of your symptoms, and treatment will include a period of rest and refraining from all forms of exercise to allow your immune system to begin the natural healing process. A short course of painkillers or anti-inflammatory medication may be recommended, and your podiatrist will show you a series of gentle, targeted exercises to build strength and loosen the iliotibial band. These exercises can reduce the likelihood of you developing ITBS in the future, as they improve flexibility in the surrounding muscles. You will also be measured for custom-made orthotic insoles, which reduce the pressure on your knee by altering how your weight is distributed across your feet. Orthotic insoles provide support to the iliotibial band as it heals.
If you're experiencing the symptoms noted above, or if you have concerns about the implications of high-impact exercise on the health of your feet and legs, schedule an initial assessment with a sports podiatry clinic.Share
7 January 2021
Hi, my name is Steve and I’m a keen runner. I’ve been running for fun for years. I love the buzz I get from a long run and the fact that my hobby helps keeps me fit. Last year, I started to experience problems with my feet and ankles. It started with just a few twinges and soreness but ended up getting so bad that I couldn’t run to my usual schedule any longer. I couldn’t work out what was going wrong, so a friend recommended I see a podiatrist. I was a bit sceptical at first; however, my podiatrist immediately identified some issues with my running gait and shoes that were causing my problems. I started this blog to pass on some of the advice I got for any other runners who are suddenly suffering from unexplained discomfort. Hope it helps keep you on the road!