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Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Condition: Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) refers to a painful knee injury caused by inflammation around the knee.

Background: The ITB runs from the hip to the knee. In many sports such as running and cycling, repeated flexing and extending the leg can lead to inflammation.

Risk Factors: Runners and cyclists are most likely to develop ITBS. Women are more likely than men to have it. Training changes such as running or cycling faster or on hills, or new shoes or bicycle equipment may also lead to ITBS.

History and Symptoms: Pain occurs at the outside part of the knee, especially when standing. The pain may also move into the thigh and hip. 

Physical Exam: The doctor will do tests that measure tenderness and tightness in the area around the knee, thigh, and hip. The doctor will also examine the muscles in the legs and whether the hip can be rotated without pain.  

Diagnostic Process: There are no blood tests for ITBS.  Ultrasound or MRI may be used to see if the ITB is thicker than usual. By watching videos of the patient running or cycling, an expert in biomechanics may be able to see what is causing the problem.  

Rehab Management: Treatment starts by reducing inflammation with rest, ice, and sometimes corticosteroids and other pain medications applied to the skin. A machine that delivers ultrasound or electric waves may be used to make sure drug penetrates to where it is needed. When pain is gone, a gradual return to running or cycling, along with stretching and strength training can begin. Make sure running shoes fit properly and are replaced when they wear out. Bicycle fit should also be checked.

Other Resources for Patients and Families:  Patient and family education about the best way to train and the importance of resting before returning to the sport is very important.   

 

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