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All About ITB Syndrome

I thought I’d use todays post to talk about what’s going on with my leg.  For those of you who read on a daily basis you know I’ve been going to physical therapy since March 29, for help with my knee and hip.  For all you newer readers out there, here is why.

Back in January, I was really looking to amp up my mileage and pace in preparation for the 10 mile race I planned on running in May.  I went to Barnes and Noble, bought a book, and mapped out a plan.  This new plan included speed sessions, long runs, and interval training averaging out to 25-30 miles a week.  Before I started using this plan, I was running on average 15 miles a week over a 3 day period.  I don’t know what finally put me over the edge, but you can read about the weekend that did me in, here.

After the first real issues of pain, I took one day off from running, felt good on Monday and attempted to get my speed work out in.  You can read about how disastrously that went, here.  After that failed workout, I couldn’t walk normally for a week because bending and straightening my leg made me want to collapse in pain.  I made an appointment with an Orthopedist, and went to see him a week and a half later.  I mention the appointment here, but basically he told me what I was already suspecting.  That my IT Band was very tight and causing friction in my knee, which is what was causing the pain.  He recommended some stretches for me to do, suggested I take Aleve to reduce inflammation, and at least 10 more days off of running.  Silly me for thinking that would be the end of it.

Exactly 10 days later, I hopped on a treadmill hoping for good things.  Instead I barely made it out of the gym before bursting into tears.  That temper tantrum is documented here.  On March 25 I went back to the Orthopedist and four days later I started physical therapy.  My diagnosis is Illiotibial Band Syndrome of the right leg.  This is my favorite website about the injury, where I got all of the following pictures.

The ITB is actually a long tendon. (Tendons connect muscles to bone.) It attaches to a short muscle at the top of the pelvis called the tensor fascia lata. The ITB runs down the side of the thigh and connects to the outside edge of the tibia (shinbone) just below the middle of the knee joint. You can feel the tendon on the outside of your thigh when you tighten your leg muscles. The ITB crosses over the side of the knee joint, giving added stability to the knee.[source]

ITB Syndrome is basically an overuse injury that occurs when the Bursa Sac in the knee becomes inflamed causing the ITB tendon to snap back and forth instead of gliding smoothly.

ITBS can be treated with physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, ultrasound treatments, and in some cases surgery.  If surgery is needed, the Bursa Sac is removed and the IT Band is cut so that friction is reduced when bending and straightening the leg.

Scary right?  Luckily I managed to get through my physical therapy without needing surgery, and recently got in my first run over 2.5 miles since that fateful February day.  While I am not yet fully recovered, I am gradually working on increasing my mileage all while keeping up with the strength exercises I learned during physical therapy.  Strong hips and glutes = injury free knees!  Something to always remember!  Also, I am not a doctor this is just information I have found and wanted to share.  If you think you may have the same problem, please see a real doctor!

*Yesterday, 11/21/10, I finished my first half marathon in 2:05:27.  So, if you are currently suffering from ITBS and feeling like you’ll never run again without pain, just know that it is possible!  I trained and ran mine after months of physical therapy, with minimal pain and can’t wait for my next one.

3 Responses

  1. Kelly this is a fabulous post!! I’m sorry it took you so long in PT to get better, but great to see you running again! 🙂 Keep taking care of yourself!!

  2. I am so glad I found you! This is something I’ve been dealing with since September. I was training for the Hood to Coast Relay Race for over a year…ran the race, had a great time, then a week later tried to run and had knee pain. I KNEW in my heart it wasn’t good. Long story short, Overuse of the ITB.

    I took 6 weeks off, tried acupuncture, physical therapy, saw all sorts of doctors and specialists. I’m finally up to running about 3 miles on the treadmill (slowly).

    I don’t know that I’ll ever be 100% again. I hope so because I had hoped to run a Half.

  3. I am so glad I found you! This is something I’ve been dealing with since September. I was training for the Hood to Coast Relay Race for over a year…ran the race, had a great time, then a week later tried to run and had knee pain. I KNEW in my heart it wasn’t good. Long story short, Overuse of the ITB.
    +1

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