What is iliotibial band syndrome?
The iliotibial band (also known as the IT band) is a thick band of fibrous tissue that runs along the outside of your leg. It starts at the hip and extends to the outer side of the shinbone just below the knee joint. The IT band is an important stabilizing structure of the lateral part of the knee as the joint flexes and extends.
IT band syndrome can occur when the IT band becomes too tight, and this can cause friction at the top of your hip or near your knee, resulting in inflammation. Those most at risk of IT band syndrome are those who suddenly increase their activity level of activity, such as runners who increase their mileage. Mechanical problems in your gait are also a main cause of IT band syndrome.
What are the symptoms?
- Pain or aching on the outside of the hip or knee
- A snapping or rubbing sensation
- Pain that increases with activity
- Increased pain going up or down stairs
How is IT band syndrome treated?
Treatment is aimed at relieving inflammation, easing hip pain, and strengthening your outside leg muscles and gluteus medius (hip abductors). Initial treatment usually consists of:
- Temporary reduction of training
- Stretching the IT band
- Orthotics to correct malalignment
- Physical therapy
- Anti-inflammatory medications
For patients who develop chronic inflammation and fail to respond to other treatment options, Dr. Potts may recommend releasing or lengthening the iliotibial band just enough to reduce the friction during movement.