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X-Ray Vision: Band on the run

New York Daily News—June 7, 2009

As running season quickly approaches, a number of runners may find themselves feeling pain in one of their hips following frequent training or exercise regimens. The pain is often caused by iliotibial band syndrome. Usually referred to as the IT band, the iliotibial band is a thickening of tissue on the outside of the thigh, extending from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee, and inserting just below the knee.

The injury comes on very suddenly and after a run. Many will often feel a sharp pain and may not be able to straighten their leg all the way. The individual also will experience significant weakness and soreness in the entire leg, mainly centering in and around the hip, including the hamstring, glutes, and IT band. As with many running injuries, it is often hard to pinpoint what causes the pain and so it is important that diagnosis and treatment are sought immediately.

IT band syndrome is one of the leading causes of lateral knee, thigh and hip pain in runners and most orthopedists will recommend that the patient immediately begin a course of rest, anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy. If the pain does not subside, an imaging study is prescribed, usually an MRI, to further investigate what is causing the pain and the best course of action, according to Dr. Ron Adler, Chief, Division of Ultrasound, Department of Radiology and Imaging, Hospital for Special Surgery.

Some key things that cause IT band syndrome include:

  • Running on a banked surface (such as the shoulder of a road or an indoor track) bends the downhill leg slightly inward and causes extreme stretching of the band against the thigh bone or femur
  • Inadequate warm-up or cool-down
  • Increasing distance too quickly or excessive downhill running
  • In cycling, having the feet “toed-in” to an excessive angle
  • Running up and down stairs

It is important that runners always warm up before a run, monitor aches and pains, and consult with a sports medicine specialist when experiencing pain before, during, or after a run.

The original story appeared at nydailynews.com and at huffingtonpost.com.

The Huffington Post—June 11, 2009


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