Ilio-tibial band syndrome, or ITBS, is a common overuse injury that affects many athletes, including runners, cyclists, and hikers. The ilio-tibial band (ITB) is a thick band of connective tissue that runs from the pelvis down the outside of the thigh and attaches to the tibia just below the knee. ITBS occurs when the ITB becomes tight or inflamed and rubs against a bursa on the outside of the knee, causing pain and discomfort.
Symptoms of ITBS typically include pain on the outside of the knee, especially when bending or straightening the leg, swelling or inflammation on the outside of the knee, and a clicking or popping sensation when the knee is bent or straightened. The pain may start out as a dull ache and gradually worsen over time, or it may come on suddenly and be more severe.
There are several factors that can contribute to the development of ITBS. These include overuse or repetitive strain on the ITB, muscle imbalances or weakness in the hip or thigh muscles, poor running or cycling form, and improper footwear or equipment. ITBS is also more common in women than men, possibly due to differences in hip anatomy and alignment.
Treatment for ITBS typically involves a combination of rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain and inflammation. Physical therapy may also be recommended to help stretch and strengthen the hip and thigh muscles, improve running form, and address any muscle imbalances. In severe cases, corticosteroid injections or surgery may be necessary to relieve pain and inflammation.
Preventing ITBS involves taking steps to reduce the risk of overuse and injury. This includes gradually increasing mileage or intensity of training, using proper footwear and equipment, maintaining good running or cycling form, and incorporating strength and flexibility exercises into your routine.
If you are experiencing symptoms of ITBS, it is important to seek medical attention and begin treatment as soon as possible. With proper care and management, most people with ITBS are able to return to their normal activities without long-term complications.