IT Band Syndrome: The Solution to a Difficult Problem

Meet today’s Guest Blogger:

 Suzie Freeman, MPT, OCS  physical therapist

Suzie Freeman, MPT, OCS
Suzie works as a Senior Physical Therapist at California Rehabilitation and Sports Physical Therapy in Huntington Beach, California. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and then moved on to the University of Southern California for her Masters in Physical Therapy.  Suzie is the Center Coordinator for Clinical Education, as well as a Clinical Instructor, taking physical therapy students from local universities on a year-round basis. 


So, it’s the New Year, and you have taken up running, or recently increased your mileage.  Things are going great.  Your pants are looser, and you feel on top of the world.  Then, the side of your thigh or the outside of your knee starts hurting.  You have developed IT Band pain. You check the internet, and it is filled with stories of how stubborn IT Band pain is to treat, and how long it takes to recover; that is, if people recover at all.  Things seem pretty dismal.  You pop a few ibuprofens, try some ice, buy some new running shoes… but the IT Band pain just won’t go away.  You see your doctor, try some physical therapy; perhaps orthotics.  Still not better.  You wonder, “Is this the best the medical community can do for me?”

There is a lot of new research being done on this and other chronic problems with soft tissue and tendons.  Your doctor may have called your problem “tendonitis”, which is inflammation of a tendon (the structures that attach muscles to bones).  There are a lot of treatments for inflammation (i.e. ice, anti-inflammatory medication, cortisone shots, or rest).  These treatments may help, but only temporarily.  New research has shown that with many chronic tendonitis and chronic soft tissue cases, the problem does not even involve inflammation at all, and that’s why ant-inflammatory treatments don’t provide long-term relief.  As the machines that visualize the structures of the human body have gotten better, scientists can now see that the painful tendon is actually degenerating.  In a degenerative tendon, healthy tendon cells are replaced by fibrotic (scar) tissue.  Even the blood supply in a degenerative tendon looks different – there are actually areas where the tiny blood vessels are not even attached to the main blood lines.  That means that the blood products necessary for healing are not being delivered to the degenerated areas.  By the time a tendon is degenerative –due to injury or overuse – the body has tried to heal, but has done so in a very inferior way.

The question then becomes:  How do we get the body back on the right track to proper healing?

There is a new treatment available called “Astym”, which is often interpreted as “a stimulation of healing”.  It was developed by physicians, physical therapists, and university researchers who demonstrated that Astym is an effective treatment for resolving chronic tendonitis.  Certified Astym clinicians have been performing this technique around the United States for over 9 years and have been getting outstanding and consistent results.  It has been found that Astym treatment has a success rate of 92% with ITB Syndrome. (Source: Astym Analyst Outcome Report, courtesy of Performance Dynamics).

You can check the Astym website to see if there is a certified clinician in your area.  In the meantime, you can try this stretch to see if you can relieve your symptoms on your own.  Like most stretches, the position should be pain free and held for 30 seconds, and repeated several times throughout the day. 

IT Band Stretch

 Effective IT Band Stretch

So, don’t let these chronic problems keep you from your sport or running.  Astym could be just what you need to get you back to doing what you love and into those tight pants again. 

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