The state of current knowledge regarding evidence-based conservative management of iliotibial band syndrome : a systematic review
Harris, Kelly Jayne
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Background : It has become practically impossible for practitioners to remain current with clinical developments. Additionally the demand from patients and third party payors for quality evidence is increasing. A systematic review is one manner in which information can be graded, summarised and presented in a succinct format for use by practitioners, patients and third party payors. Objectives : To identify the current knowledge available on the conservative management of iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) and to evaluate the scientific and methodological rigor of that knowledge. The systematic review of these studies identified the level and type of evidence that currently exists in the support of conservative management of ITBS and the specific interventions and combinations of interventions currently employed. Method : A systematic review of ITBS studies was conducted. ITBS studies were identified using key indexing terms (iliotibial band syndrome, treatment, conservative and intervention) on several databases (EBSCOhost, Google Scholar, Metalib, Pubmed, Science Direct and Springerlink), all studies were included up until the date of ethics approval (21st May 2012) . The gathered studies were screened for compliance with the inclusion criteria, and then reviewed by blinded independent reviewers (reviewer criteria included qualification, clinical experience, academic experience, research experience and discipline). Data collection and analysis : The reviewers rated the methodological rigour of the ITBS studies utilising an appropriate scale (e.g. PEDro Scale). Feedback was collated and analysed for discordance. Studies were then analysed, ranked and followed by a discussion in the context of their clinical outcomes, thus formulating a structured summary of the known clinical data with regards to the clinical management of ITBS. Results: The identified citations (4130) were screened and sorted by study type. This resulted in 167 citations that were reviewed by abstract for compliance with the inclusion criteria. A final total of 23 studies meet eligibility criteria. Eight articles reported on a combination of interventions, four discussed biomechanical and causative factors, and the remaining eleven articles investigated individual interventions in the treatment of ITBS. After review and analysis, combination interventions were supported by the strongest level of evidence, thus advocating the use of a combination of interventions in the management of ITBS in providing better clinical outcomes. Moderate evidence favoured the use of customised orthoses, injectable corticosteroids, phonophoresis and addressing biomechanical and causative factors. However, there was moderate evidence against the use of deep tissue frictions, as no improvement was found. This outcome suggests a need for further evidence to advocate the appropriateness of these interventions in clinical care of ITBS. Hip abductor strengthening and stretch therapy were found to have limited evidence. However, no evidence was found to support the application of active release technique, corrective neuromuscular approach, custom dry floatation cushions and talar joint manipulation in the management of ITBS. This latter outcome indicated a need for studies to investigate their appropriateness or inappropriateness in clinical care. Conclusion : The systematic review of ITBS studies revealed that use of a combination of conservative therapies was found to have the strongest level of evidence, which may indicate its appropriateness in the management of patients suffering from ITBS. Specific combinations of conservative therapies and the use of individual therapies require future research in order to better delineate their contribution to the management of ITBS. Randomised controlled trials are the gold standard for research, as they have the greatest level of methodological quality, and should be used where possible when investigating the efficiency of interventions in the treatment of ITBS. Studies, which were not randomised controlled trials, but adopted the principles of a randomised controlled trial structure, contributed positively towards the methodological rigor of these studies.