In this last article in the series of sports injuries, SPD’s physiotherapist Gerda de Jong explains more on two common knee injuries when playing sports.
What is Iliotibial Band Syndrome?
Sharp, burning pain at the outside of the knee may be an indicator of iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS). Other symptoms of ITBS include pain when flexing and extending the knee, and pain that worsens with running or walking.
The iliotibial band is a thickened band of fibrous tissue on the outside of the thigh. It forms the continuation of the tensor fascia lata muscle at the top of the thigh. It is attached to the bone at the outside of the leg just below the knee. The iliotibial band slides back and forth over the bony surface of the knee when you are bending or extending the knee. This may cause inflammation and pain.
Usually, the pain comes on gradually over the lateral side of the thigh and knee. People who participate in long distance running and walking may experience this condition. If you have a poor running technique, use unsuitable shoes or suddenly increase your training intensity, you may be at risk for ITBS. Cyclists may develop ITBS if they maintain an improper posture on the bicycle and ‘toe in’ (feet pointing inwards towards the wheels) when they pedal.
Treatment of ITBS
When you are diagnosed with ITBS, your doctor may prescribe medication for the pain and inflammation. He may also advise you to temporarily minimise the activities causing pain. Your physiotherapist may apply ultrasound over the area to reduce the pain. He would also address the underlying cause of the condition and teach you specific exercises for your hip and knee to improve your range of motion and strength.
Injury to Anterior Cruciate Ligaments
The knee is a modified hinge joint with four major ligaments that provide stability. One of these is the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, and it is located in the middle of the knee. The ACL prevents the lower leg bone from sliding forward and provides stability when you move your knee.
Injury to the ACL is very common when doing sports. It can occur through twisting the knee or sustaining a blow to the side of the knee. Those who play basketball, football, soccer, rugby, gymnastics, hockey or skiing, have a higher chance of this injury.
When your ACL is injured, you will experience a “pop” followed by swelling and pain in the knee. Your knee may feel unstable and there may be a feeling of ‘giving way’, especially when walking on uneven ground or going up and down the stairs.
Treatment of ACL
An ACL injury should be treated with a splint, ice, elevation of the joint and pain relievers prescribed by your doctor. Some people will require crutches. Physiotherapy may help to reduce the pain and swelling, restore motion in the joint and improve the strength in your leg. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended. After surgery, your physiotherapist would help you regain your flexibility and strength with a specific ACL exercise protocol. For an effective recovery, do adhere to the prescribed physiotherapy!