The anatomy of knee pain
The iliotibial band (ITB) is a thickening of connective tissue that runs from the front of the hip to the outside of your knee. It is used to distribute and dissipate load. It is particularly vulnerable to running, but it can also become overloaded after hip fracture, injury or replacement. The ITB has several strong muscles acting upon it, mainly the gluteus maximus (buttock) muscle and the tensor fascia lata (TFL).
The main symptom is pain on the outer side of the knee most commonly lower down just above the knee joint – this is the place where the ITB rubs against the knee bones. Symptoms often begin with a sensation of stinging or needle-like pricks. If untreated this can lead to pain on heel-strike. Finally the pain can become extremely disabling; where even climbing up and down steps can become a gargantuan task!
Why we suffer
Nothing happens in isolation in the body and ITB syndrome can come from a plethora of reasons including: foot biomechanics when running (compensating for foot problems), a short leg, bursitis of the hip, sacroiliac (spinal) joint dysfunction, poor sit-up technique, climbing, lifting heavy loads or being overweight.
Trigger point therapy and self-help
The great news is that ITB syndrome can be readily relieved by trigger point therapy, self-massage and stretching. Trigger point therapy is quick and inexpensive and that’s probably why you won’t hear much about it!
Here’s a great self-help technique you can perform at home today. The idea is to locate the tender point in the tensor fascia lata (TFL) and apply a pressure tool or ball to it while lying on your painful side. You should initially experience a dull sweet pain (similar to the sensation felt during a good massage) but as you relax and ease into it the pain should melt away. You can also do this for the gluteus maximus muscle. Perform these techniques three or four times per day for about five to ten minutes each session and follow-up each session with stretching. Continue to perform these exercises for up to six weeks and you should notice a really big improvement.
To find out more about trigger gluteus and TFL trigger points, self-help techniques and a list of our therapists who treat trigger points please click here.
Simeon Asher is the former chairman of the Israeli Register of Osteopaths. With over 25 years of experience, internationally celebrated practitioner, teacher and author of 12 books, including the No. 1 Best Seller on Amazon, The Concise Book of Trigger Points, Simeon was voted as one London's top 10 osteopaths in a poll by the London Evening Standard. Simeon opened the Back into Shape Clinic in 2007 in the heart of Ra’anana, Israel to provide a wide range of Osteopathy, Physiotherapy Acupuncture, Massage and IDD therapies. The clinic and its group of specialists believe that ‘the body understands what to do and it is their mission to help guide it’.