A Better Way to Treat Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Have you ever had pain on the outside of your knee?

If so, you’re not alone. Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) is a common problem for many active people. It’s often associated with activities like running, cycling, hiking, or weight lifting. Let’s talk about the anatomy of the IT band, the causes of IT band syndrome, and how to treat it (better)!

The Iliotibial band (ITB) is a thick band of connective tissue that connects muscles and joints in the pelvis, hip, and knee. It stabilizes the knee during running. The ITB may become irritated or inflamed due to a combination of rubbing over the lateral femoral epicondyle (the outer side of the kneecap) during activity and an imbalance of strength and flexibility in the muscles attached to it. Specifically, these are: weakness of the gluteus medius and tightness of the tensor fascia lata (TFL) and lateral quadriceps.

Because of the complex nature of the ITB, successful treatment of ITBS must be comprehensive and address all these areas. Historically the mainstream treatment has been focused on attempts to stretch the ITB or spend time on a foam roller. Fortunately, there are better ways to soothe the ITB, lessen your pain, and get you back to action sooner.

The first one I’d like to discuss is an evidence based treatment called functional dry needling. Dry needling is performed with thin filament needles, so it may appear to some to be a form of acupuncture. However, it’s a technique based in Western medicine that targets tight, contracted muscles. The research shows that dry needling restores blood flow to oxygen deprived tissue and allows muscles to relax and return to normal functioning.

Another important facet of treatment is called Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM). This is performed by firmly gliding a special tool over the muscle to help release tight tissue. Therapeutic cupping is another way to lift and decompress the tissue.

Additionally, kinesiology taping may be utilized to change the way the brain interprets pain signals from the body. These are all effective ways to improve blood flow, restore the normal function of the ITB and speed the healing process. Finally, when indicated, learning techniques to strengthen the gluteus medius and release the TFL and lateral quadriceps is an important part of healing and maintaining good ITB function.

Precision Physical Therapy, LLC
Dr. Gregory Shea of Precision PT

Meet Gregory Shea, MPT, DPT, CSCS, Cert. SMT, Cert. DN, FMT-C, Dip. Osteopractic

Gregory Shea is a Doctor of Physical Therapy & Osteopractor who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of neuromusculoskeletal pain and orthopedic & sports medicine conditions.

Dr. Shea received a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology and a Master of Science in Physical Therapy from American International College and a post-graduate Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Temple University. He earned his diploma in Osteopractic physical therapy through the Spinal Manipulation Institute and American Academy of Manipulative Therapy.

Additionally, he holds a certification in strength and conditioning through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He specializes in spinal manipulation, western trigger point dry needling, and instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization for a variety of neuromusculoskeletal & sports medicine conditions. Dr. Shea completed a two-year certification in spinal manipulation through The Spinal Manipulation Institute & American Academy of Manipulative Therapy in 2013.

Dr. Shea has lectured on high-velocity low amplitude manipulation of the cervical spine, foundations and principles of spinal manipulation, non-contact knee injury prevention in female athletes, trigger point dry needling, instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization, lumbosacral differential diagnosis and kinesiology taping. He has practiced throughout the United States and has treated many professional athletes including members of the NFL, US Ski Team, Olympic level rowers, Nordic skiers, biathletes, professional cyclists, and triathletes. He served as the team physical therapist for Team USA at the world championships in Edmonton, Canada. He is currently in training with The RockTape continuing education company to become a master instructor.

Dr. Shea has special interests in the diagnosis and treatment of migraines, tension type and cervicogenic headaches, sacroiliac joint dysfunctions and neuromyofascial trigger point pain syndromes. He caringly approaches each patient as a unique individual, and is an expert in treating pain and dysfunction quickly and effectively. He has a background as a competitive alpine ski racer, cyclist and triathlete. When he is not at work he enjoys mountain biking, paddling, swimming, skiing, exploring the mountains, and relaxing on the beach with a good book.

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