Knee pain - Cycling Injuries

The most common cause of knee pain in cyclists is iliotibial band syndrome; this is also a major contributor to pain in the hip.

What is iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS)?

The iliotibial band runs from the hip to just below the knee; it is responsible for supporting the knee joint and facilitating movement. Iliotibial band syndrome is a condition which affects the knee and the hip and is caused by inflammation of the iliotibial tendon; as the tendon swells, it causes friction, which contributes to pain.

Causes of iliotibial band syndrome

The most common cause of ITBS is overuse; consequently this injury is common in runners as well as cyclists. Other causes may include training on a banked surface, having poor posture and form and not warming up properly.

Symptoms of ITBS

Common symptoms include pain in the knee and hip joints, a restricted range of movement and swelling; pain may be more intense above the knee joint. In some cases, symptoms will appear after activity has ceased. Pain may be heightened when the foot is planted firmly on the ground.

Treatment for ITBS

The affected leg should be elevated and rested; during this time, ice may also be applied to soother pain and reduce swelling. Anti-inflammatory medication and pain relief will further decrease swelling and control pain around the joint. The affected leg should be rested to allow it to heal before participating in physical activity; exercising with an injury will make it worse and could lead to a longer spell on the side-lines. Physiotherapy will help to gradually increase the intensity of exercise and build up strength in and around the hip and knee joints.

Preventing ITBS

It is important to allow sufficient rest periods between exercises to allow the body to recover; this is especially important if symptoms of an injury are present. Warming up and cooling down thoroughly will also help to prevent further damage.

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