Have you ever felt a strong, piercing pain on the outside of your knee while walking, jogging or cycling? It’s the kind of pain that will stop you dead in your tracks. Walking is uncomfortable (let alone running) and you seem to notice it with each step you take.
It typically starts gradually as an annoyance but can quickly progress to much more.
There is no “pushing through” this type of pain once it gets bad enough and you may even notice yourself walking with a slight limp.
It could be that you have a common condition known as Iliotibial Band (IT Band) Syndrome.
This is most common in runners and cyclists due to the repetitive nature of these sports.
Your IT Band consists of a dense band of connective tissue that spans from your hip down the side of your thigh to just below the knee. The contractile portion of the tissue starts up in your hip as your Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL) but the IT band itself doesn’t contract and lengthen like a “normal” muscle.
This is particularly important because if the hip portion of your IT band gets ignored it could cause incomplete or delayed healing.
Aggravation to the IT band at the lateral knee occurs with repetitive knee bending and extension (like what happens during running and cycling). The tissue rubs across one of the bones on the outside of your knee causing repeated friction and inflammation.
Physical therapy is helpful in treating this condition by first confirming your problem is IT Band Syndrome and not something else. After establishing the correct diagnosis, a thorough assessment of the entire leg is performed to identify areas of weakness or tightness that could also be contributing to the whole problem.
Initially after injury, at least two weeks of rest is recommended with regular intervals of icing the knee. Treatments may include interventions to improve hip, knee and ankle mobility, exercises to strengthen the hip and core, stability or balance exercises and then slowly progressing back to activity.
Rest assured, this is a treatable condition and you won’t be limited forever as long as you get the proper treatment. When left untreated, this condition may cause bigger problems that can last months or may even require surgery.
It’s important to note that there are multiple things that could cause lateral knee pain. Getting evaluated by a physical therapist can help establish the correct diagnosis and treatment path to help you get better faster.
If you’re suffering with lateral knee pain that isn’t getting better and keeps slowing you down, be sure to ask about our complimentary Discovery Visits. It’s a chance for you to get face-to-face with one of our doctors, ask them your questions and get their best advice on what to do next to solve your problem for good!