Did you know that engaging in activities that involve repetitive flexing and extending of knees can cause iliotibial band syndrome? Well, studies show that walking long distances, cycling and athletics, among others are some of the contributing factors. As a nurse, physical therapist, fitness coach or yoga instructor, you will always encounter clients with IT band injuries. According to experts, incorporating massage therapy with conventional treatment is one of the best approaches to manage IT band syndrome.
What Is IT Band Syndrome?
The IT band is a thick connective tissue that originates from the pelvic bone and extends laterally to the shinbone. The fibrous band works with hip muscles to stabilize lateral movements of the hip and knee. However, overworking the connective tissue with activities that require repetitive knee flexion and extension causes IT band syndrome. The overuse movements create friction between the band and the lateral femoral epicondyle, thus, causing discomfort when exercising, or moving. Signs and symptoms of IT band syndrome include:
- Patient reports feeling an irritating pain along the lateral side of the hip and the femoral epicondyle during motion.
- There is notable inflammation and swelling on the outer part of the knee.
- Slight pain is felt at the beginning of an exercise and increases with intensity as the activity progresses.
- Pain in the gluteal region caused by overstretching gluteus muscles.
- Experiencing a popping pain that results from the rubbing of IT band against your knee during movement.
- Tenderness on the lateral femoral and tibia epicondyles upon palpation
Diagnosing the IT Band Syndrome
Despite causing knee pain, iliotibial band syndrome is not the only cause of knee discomfort. Before making your diagnosis, ensure you take a history of the client’s complaints and their daily activities. Usually, the iliotibial band syndrome affects people who engage in activities that put a constant strain on the knees. A client who reports being a runner, bicyclist, hiker or athlete might be a candidate of iliotibial band syndrome.
After taking the history, the next essential step is to conduct a comprehensive physical assessment to determine the precise effected location. You can use some tests such as Noble’s test to assess for pain in the lateral femoral condyle. Additionally, using an Ober’s test will assist you in examining the IT band for tightness. A comprehensive physical examination will give you an insight on areas that need massage therapy; to determine the appropriate techniques for myofascial release.
Managing IT Band Contracture Syndrome with Massage Therapy
As a professional health worker, ensure that massage therapy is in your to-do interventions for iliotibial band syndrome. Offering a massage along with traditional treatment has proved to be effective in enhancing recovery from the IT band syndrome. Below are the benefits of massaging your patients:
- Relieve Lateral Leg Pain
In most cases, it’s a nagging pain resulting from IT band overuse that forces patients to seek professional intervention. Performing myofascial release massage on the lateral side of the effected leg relaxes the fibrous band and muscles from tension — thus alleviating the pain.
- Promote Healing
Nowadays, unique massage techniques aim to not only relieve pain but also to promote tissue healing. Addressing trigger points and hypertonicities of the leg muscles enhances blood circulation. Improved tissue perfusion allows delivery of oxygen and nutrients to enhance the healing of the injured tissues.
- Restore flexibility and Improve Mobility
A patient who is suffering from IT band syndrome often complains of inability to move comfortably. Massage therapy resolves muscle stiffness and tenderness, therefore refining motion and flexibility. Therefore, after several sessions, your patient will be able to resume daily activities with ease.
- Improve Posture
When the pain is intense, most people adopt bad postures in response to the discomfort. As a massage therapist, you are equipped with unique skills to resolve tension and inflammation of the effected regions. The relaxation and flexibility of the leg enable the patients to assume their normal and healthy posture.
- Alleviate Stress and Anxiety
Besides enhancing physical fitness, massage treatment helps to relieve the body from stress. Reduced anxiety in patients with IT band syndrome promotes healing and improves their emotional well-being.
What is the prognosis of Iliotibial Band Syndrome?
Typically, if you utilize the right treatment modalities, the prognosis of IT band friction syndrome is excellent. For optimum results, it is crucial to use a multifaceted approach when treating patients. Whether you are a nurse, physical therapist, or a fitness coach, integrating massage therapy with conventional treatment will yield a positive outcome.
Ultimately, adding massage therapy to your healthcare profession not only improves healthcare delivery to your clients but also makes you indispensable. Want to learn more about managing IT band syndrome with massage therapy? Contact our Seattle massage therapy schools today to discuss your massage career and educational options in Seattle, Tacoma, or Bellingham.
I addition you can also contact our partner massage therapy school; Seattle Clinical Massage School for information about a massage therapy career in Seattle, Washington.