ITB friction syndrome is a painful condition that occurs due to excessive friction on the outer area of the knee joint. It is an overuse injury that occurs primarily in runners and hence gets the name “runner’s knee”.
Essentially the problem arises when the Illiotibial Band (ITB), a long connective tissue structure that runs from the outside of the hip to the outside of the knee, rubs repeatedly against the underlying bony area on the outside of the knee. This results in irritation to the underside of the ITB and the associated soft tissue structures casuing pain and inflammation. The area becomes tender to touch and is often most painful when the knee is bent to around 30 degrees.
During the early stages of this injury, the area may only be painful after running or activity. But as the injury progresses, pain and even swelling may be present even during activity or at rest.
Predisposing factors for illiotibial band friction syndrome include, beginning a running program that involves lots of hills, weak core or gluteal muscles, flat or overly pronated feel and having tight ITB’s.Incorrect footwear may also lead to an increased risk of illiotibial band friction syndrome.
Treatment usually invovles using rest and ice to ease inflammation around the affected area. Anti-inflammatory medication can also help reduce pain and inflammation when necessary. Physiotherapists may use ultrasound or massage to reduce pain and inflammation as well as stretching of the ITB. Once the acute pain has settled, any predisposing factors should be addressed, for example, strengthening weak gluteal muscles or fitting orthotics for overly pronating feet. A proper plan to return to return to activity at the right time and intensity should also be devised to ensure symtpoms do not recur.