Inflammation: Here to manage it

Inflammation is a stressor that can cause pain and discomfort. Inflammation can make a bad situation much worse if the swelling occurs in a tight or restricted area of movement such as where the IT band passes along the side of the knee. In other words, there is not much extra room in this spot so the inflammation may result in even further compression, friction, strain, or wear. This may be why IT Band Syndrome can appear and then often drastically worsen within minutes when running. Managing inflammation is an important consideration for IT Band Syndrome.

Ice
Ice can be effective in controlling inflammation. The good thing about icing is that it can be done often without any real side effects. Ice has a natural numbing effect as well. When running a lot of miles, you may want to try icing a couple times a day. You can also ice at night when you go to bed. 

Keep in mind that inflammation is part of the body's healing process. Inflammation stimulates repair. Inflammation suppression may slow the healing. This is a topic of debate though so I would recommend that readers do some research and decide themselves.

You probably overdid it if you experience enough irritation that you really need to ice your knees. Write down what you did so you remember. Make sure to add, "Don't over do it, dummy!" at the end. There will likely be a few of these setbacks.

Ice

Anti-inflammatories
NSAIDs work on a chemical level. They block the effects of special enzymes -- specifically Cox-1 and Cox-2 enzymes. These enzymes play a key role in making prostaglandins. By blocking the Cox enzymes, NSAIDs stop your body from making as many prostaglandins. This means less swelling and less pain. Most people who use NSAIDs don't have any serious problems with them. But in some -- especially those who need pain relief regularly -- there can be a downside. When you swallow a pill, it affects your whole system, not just the part that hurts. So while an NSAID may do a great job of easing your pain, it may also be having other effects -- some of them unwanted -- in other parts of your body.

As mentioned above about icing, inflammation stimulates repair. Inflammation suppression may slow the that repair. This is a topic of debate though so I would recommend that readers do some reading and do what they feel is best.

If the bottle says acetaminophen then it is not a NSAID and will not reduce inflammation. Note that Tylenol is not a NSAID. Aspirin (Bayer, Bufferin, Excedrin), Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), Naproxen (Aleve) are examples of NSAIDs and can reduce swelling and inflammation. However, many of the NSAIDs also contain acetaminophen. I avoid these since I am just looking to control swelling and the acetaminophen can work too well at hiding pain since the NSAIDs already hide pain as well. Consult a medical professional before using over-the-over the counter medications.

You probably over did it if you experience enough irritation that causes you to feel like you really need to take NSAIDs to reduce inflammation and control pain. Write down your activities so you remember not to repeat them excessively. Make sure to add, "Don't over do it, dummy!" at the end. There will likely be a few of these setbacks as runners often tend to push ourselves to the limits.

Compression and elevation
Compression is somewhat difficult in the area affected by IT Band Syndrome. Elevation can be accomplished by lying down with a pillow under the knees. Sleeping on your back with a pillow behind the knees may provide some relief.

legelevation

Other viewpoints
In his book, "The Runners Body", Ross Tucker, PhD, argues that inflammation is a natural part of the healing process and helps build stronger more durable muscles and that anti-inflammatories may inhibit this process. Click here to read the article, "Inflammation: Friend or Foe?" by Pete Magill on this topic.

 
 

 

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