“33 year old Maggie Silvers was on a run in October 2009 when she felt a sharp, burning pain everytime she bent her knee. “It hurt so bad that day I thought my knee was actually breaking,” remembers the Edwards resident who moved to the Vail Valley in 2008 from Tennessee. “That was the day I decided to seek treatment.”
Maggie, who started running competitively when she was 10 years old, says her knee also hurt when she would walk up and down steps and when she would casually sit with her leg bent. “I was the typical old school runner – ‘just run’. However, I didn’t pay attention to my mechanics and ignored all the signs and warnings that my body was sending out to me. I would certainly go back in time if I could and focus on strengthening my glutes.
A physical therapist eventually referred her to Dr. Rick Cunningham. “After meeting Dr. Cunningham, he didn’t want to jump into surgery but it was my choice and since he had performed IT band surgery before, I knew I was making the best decision,” explains Maggie. “He had a very professional and calm demeanor that gave me the confidence that I needed in making my decision.” After meeting with VSO’s staff, Maggie says she became knowledgeable of her injury and how they occur.
According to Dr. Cunningham, Iliotibial band (IT) syndrome is a common cause of pain on the outside or lateral side of the knee. He sees it commonly in patients who are runners and cyclists where the knee undergoes repetitive flexion and extension.
The IT band is a dense fibrous band of connective tissue that runs all the way from the side of pelvis down to the side of the knee. The IT band acts to either extend or flex the knee depending on what angle the knee is positioned in, while also providing some added stability to the knee.
“In the office, patients with IT band tendonitis have pain over the lateral side of their knee just above their joint line,” says Dr. Cunningham. “Oftentimes, I can feel some ‘creaking’ as I palpate this area and move the knee. I obtain a radiograph of the knee to be sure there is no knee arthritis or other conditions that could be contributing to the lateral-sided knee pain. An MRI is usually unnecessary but in cases where I have them to review, they typically show thickening of the IT band with a fluid collection deep to it.”
“No one wants surgery but I must say I could do this procedure again because the recovery was a breeze, only six weeks of no cardio and I didn’t even need crutches! I haven’t had any complications since the surgery and that was 5 years ago.”
Maggie, who picked up road biking and trail running when she moved to Colorado, says the summer after surgery she was able to do her longest ride of 80 miles to Breckenridge from Avon and back. “That’s over Vail Pass twice!” she adds.
“My advice for anyone who is skeptical and afraid to get the ‘dreaded news’ of an injury is to seek treatment immediately if you believe you are injured. Dr. Cunningham and his staff are the very best at what they do! Running is my life, and he gave me my life back. Thanks VSO!!!”
-IT Band surgery