Lateral knee pain? Could be iliotibial band syndrome

Iliotibial band syndrome: a continuous pain affecting the side of the knee, particularly during (or after) running or brisk walking: this could be iliotibial band syndrome (also known as runner’s knee)

The iliotibial band is located in the iliotibial area, the last part of the fascia lata, which lines the superficial muscles of the thigh

The iliotibial band syndrome is an inflammatory process in this area; it occurs in the event of mechanical friction, which may be due to overload in the presence of predisposing factors.

Anatomical factors such as knee varus, tibia varus or dysmetria of the lower limbs play a role, as do overload, playing sports on hard or uneven ground or improper posture when running or walking.

Symptoms and diagnosis of iliotibial banding

The sufferer experiences pain in the knee, particularly in the outer lateral area, when bending or extending the joint, and a feeling of stiffness.

The pain is such that it prevents the continuation of sporting activities and tends to recede with rest.

A specialist should be consulted if symptoms occur.

The diagnosis is usually clinical and assesses muscle flexibility and strength, the anatomy of the lower limbs, the patient’s gait and the location of the pain, including specific tests.

Instrumental examinations (ultrasound, X-rays) may be useful if a differential diagnosis with other pathologies with similar symptoms is required.

How is iliotibial band syndrome treated?

The approach is initially conservative and treatments such as cryotherapy, infiltrations, laser therapy and shock waves may be indicated.

Stretching exercises of the fascia lata and the iliotibial band may also be useful, as well as the use of personalised sports insoles, which can be inserted into shoes during sport.

The insoles cushion the stresses on the knee and restore balance to the posture, which generally allows a return to sport.

In some rare cases, surgery is required.

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