Is "ITB FRICTION SYNDROME" The Source of Your Lateral Knee Pain?

Have you been suffering from pain on the outside of your knee? Does it feel like it’s on the joint? Are you struggling to think of anything that may have set it off? Is it mainly sore when you’re running and then disappears when you stop?*

If so, you may be suffering from something called ITB FRICTION SYNDROME.

You’ve probably heard of your ITB – or your iliotibial band – it’s the band on the outside of the leg that your personal trainer or physio is always telling you to use your foam roller on. Oh, and it hurts like heck when you do!

Well, your iliotibial band is actually a band of fascia (think a broad but really thin ligament) that runs from your hip to just below the outside of your knee. Because it isn’t actually a muscle, stretching it is very hard and it responds better to things such as dry needling, fascial release and massage or foam rolling.

This band runs right over the side of the knee where a small extension of the joint capsule lies to prevent the band from rubbing directly on bone. If we exercise vigorously (usually running or cycling – any activity where the knee bends and straightens repetitively) – this band can constantly rub over this point which causes it to get inflamed and then painful.

ITB FRICTION POINT – The band runs back and forth over this point causing it to inflame.

So why has it started hurting all of a sudden when running is part of your normal repertoire?

Normally, ITB friction syndrome comes on from one or all of the following:

  • A change in your running regime: increased distance, speed, hills

  • Change in footwear

  • Poor biomechanics (foot position, weak gluts)

  • Overactive ITB (getting far too tight so compressing against joint line more when you run)

It’s important to see a physio to clear other knee injuries such as ligament or meniscal tears as well as make sure this pain isn’t purely from trigger point referral in tight muscles in the leg (if they get super tight, they form big knots which can refer pain down to the side of the knee).

If it is ITB FS – What do you do?

  1. You need to free up the ITB (get on your foam roller (don’t roll on the sore spot, only above it) and a muscle called your Tensor Fascia Lata (TFL) which the ITB connects to higher up on the hip.

  2. Address any underlying biomechanical issues

  3. Strengthen weak muscles

  4. Anti-inflammatories can help in some cases too

*it’s important to note that you CAN feel pain just with walking with ITB FS if it has progressed past a certain point. Generally, in the beginning stages you will only feel pain with activity.

Happy Running!

We hope this helps get on top of that niggle – If you're still unsure and want an opinion and some treatment, come in to see us! Book online here, or call us on (08) 9448 2994.

#physiotherapyperth #physio #physiotherapy #surfphysio #perthphysio #running #runningphysio #itb #itbfriction

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