I'm a runner. The outside of my knee hurts, just above the joint. Should I see a doctor?

I'm a runner

Whether the pain is in both legs or one leg, seeing an orthopedic doctor is a good idea. Often we suggest seeing a doctor for chronic or gradual pain when YOU'RE ready, but this type of pain may be caused by an IT Band problem. It needs medical intervention sooner, not later. Iliotibial Band Syndrome (IT Band Syndrome) happens sometimes to runners, bikers, and others in endurance sports. It's also called "Jumper's Knee" after athletes who over-stress their knees with repetitive, explosive movements.

The IT Band runs from the outer hip area, down the outside of the leg, and attaches to the top of the shin bone. It stabilizes the knee by changing positions as the knee bends and straightens. Since the knee is a bony area, there's a fluid-filled sac called a bursa between the IT Band and the knee joint. The repeated change in positions can cause both IT Band AND bursa inflammation when you log a lot of miles, up your mileage suddenly, or intensely jump a lot.

Ignoring the pain caused by IT Band Syndrome can lead to scarring in the protective bursa. Scar tissue isn't as agile as healthy tissue, so decreased knee range of motion and more pain as activity decreases can result. Both of these outcomes are negatively life altering, especially for athletes.

An orthopedic doctor specializing in the leg and knee area and/or sports medicine is the best medical professional to properly diagnose and treat IT Band Syndrome. He or she will take your heath history, examine you, and may get an MRI to confirm your diagnosis. IT Band Syndrome caught before scar tissue develops can be treated without surgery. Often, rest or a change in athletic activities will help. Ice, physical therapy, and injections may be options as well. Surgery is for those who have developed IT Band Syndrome as a chronic condition and who are not helped by other, more conservative measures.