Knee Pain & Treatment

Perhaps you have been running and suddenly felt pain on the outside of your knee. The pain is puzzling because you haven’t fallen or twisted your knee. It appeared out of the blue. Chances are you may be developing Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome (ITBFS)

The hip’s Fascia lata is a strong, dense, broad layer of tissue surrounding the muscles of the thigh like a stocking. It is very strong laterally (outside thigh). The portion that runs from the iliac crest (pelvic bone) to the tibia (shin bone) is called the iliotibial band or tract.

ITBFS is the inflammation of the ITB just above the knee due to friction. The friction is caused when the ITB passes over the lateral femoral condyle (outside “flared” portion of the thigh bone) during bending of the knee. ITBFS is an overuse injury seen in activities such as running, cycling, etc., that involve repetitive bursts of bending and extending of the knee. It often occurs in people who suddenly change running distance, speed, terrain and/or shoes.

Symptoms usually begin as an ache on the outside of the knee. The ache intensifies as the running distance increases.

At the onset, discomfort may only be felt during the run. However, if the runner continues to push further, pain may persist between running sessions. The pain is felt over the lateral femoral condyle and can radiate up the outside of the thigh and down to the tibial attachment. Tenderness upon palpation is usually three centimeters above the knee joint. Pain can be reproduced by standing on the affected leg with the knee bent 30-40 degrees. It can be particularly painful when an athlete is running downhill or descending stairs.

Since ITBFS is an overuse syndrome, running or training should be decreased. Only minimal discomfort should be felt during activity or the condition is being aggravated.

Running distances should be reduced and hills avoided during the healing process.

Stretching before and after running, and icing frequently will reduce discomfort.

If symptoms persist or worsen, see your family physician or physical therapist.

If the symptoms of ITBFS are recognized early, the above treatment measures ca prevent the syndrome from worsening.