Iliotibial band syndrome is an overuse injury of the thigh and knee. Symptoms include knee pain and possible swelling. Treatment may involve anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, ultrasound, and the use of orthotics.
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Iliotibial band syndrome is an overuse injury of tissues of the outer thigh
The iliotibial band runs along the lateral or outside aspect of the thigh and is an important structure that stabilizes the outside of the knee as it flexes and extends.
Inflammation of the IT band can occur as it crosses back and forth across the bony prominence of the femoral epicondyle as the knee flexes and extends.
Iliotibial band syndrome is an overuse injury causing pain on the outside part of the knee especially during running when the heel strikes the ground.
RICE and anti-inflammatory medications are first-line treatments.
Physical therapy may be helpful and, rarely, surgery is an option for those who fail to respond to first-line treatment options.
Prevention is a key component and includes maintaining flexibility of the low back and leg muscles.
What is iliotibial band syndrome?
Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS or IT band syndrome) is an overuse injury of the tissues located on the outer part of thigh and knee. It causes pain and tenderness in those areas, especially just above the knee joint. Iliotibial band syndrome is more common in runners and bicyclists.
The iliotibial band is a thick band of tissue that begins at the iliac crest in the pelvis, runs down the outer part of the thigh, and crosses the knee to attach into the top part of the tibia or shinbone. The iliotibial (IT) band helps stabilize the
outside part of the knee through its range of motion.
Picture of the iliotibial (IT) band
When the knee is flexed, the IT band is located behind the femoral epicondyle, a bony outcropping of the femur or thighbone at the knee. The IT band moves forward across the condyle when the knee is extended. There is a sac or bursa that allows the band to glide across the condyle, but should inflammation occur in this area, the increased friction from repeatedly rubbing the iliotibial band across the bony condyle can cause pain, especially along the outer (lateral) aspect of the knee joint.
If the symptoms are ignored, the inflammation can continue and
occur in the bursa, decreasing knee range of motion and causing increasing pain
with decreasing activity.