Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)

Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) is a painful knee condition that affects the outer part of the knee, running up the thigh. It is often seen in long-distance runners, although the condition is different than runner’s knee. If you are suffering from knee pain, you may have ITBS. Call a knee pain doctor in Allentown, PA to schedule a consultation with one of our knee pain doctors.

What Is Iliotibial Band Syndrome?

The iliotibial band is a fascia (a long piece of connective tissue) that runs along the outside of the leg, running from the hip to the knee to the shinbone. The IT band enables extending and rotating the hip. It also stabilizes and helps the movement of the knee. There is a small fluid-filled sac called a bursa that is between the IT band and the bone that allows these smooth movements.

Iliotibial band syndrome develops because of repetitive use and overuse of the knees, causing the band to become irritated, tight, and inflamed. The area of injury is usually at the bottom of the band where it goes into the knee. When irritation is present, and the person walks too much or engages in some other activity too much, the inflammation and pain begin.

How does IT band syndrome develop?

There are certain activities and/or factors that make people more prone to develop IT band syndrome. These include:

·       Muscle problems: If the muscles in the leg are tight, this can cause friction in the IT band. Weak buttock muscles can also cause friction on the IT band.

·       Increase in athletic activity: Anyone who suddenly increases their athletic activity level can cause friction at the knee and irritation to the IT band.

·       Running: The repetitive friction on the IT band in long-distance running can lead to the development of IT band syndrome.

·       Foot biometrics: People who have flat feet, bowed legs, or any other foot biomechanics can cause strain on the IT band which can lead to IT band syndrome.

What are the symptoms of IT Band syndrome?

Some of the more common symptoms of IT band syndrome include:

·       Lateral knee pain

·       Swelling of the knee

·       Snapping or popping sensation

How is IT band syndrome treated?

There are different treatments for IT band syndrome, depending on whether or not short-term or long-term treatment is needed.

Short-term treatments include:

·       Rest

·       Ice therapy

·       Anti-inflammatories

·       Changing activities (i.e. runners may switch to walking or swimming)

Long-term treatments include:

·       Knee straps

·       Massage

·       Orthotics in shoes

·       Strengthening exercises

·       Stretch exercises

·       Taping

How can IT band syndrome be prevented?

One of the most common causes of IT band syndrome is running. In order to prevent the syndrome from developing, there are steps a person can take:

·       Make sure to warm up and cool down before and after each running session. Failure to properly stretch greatly increases the risk of injury or irritation.

·       Make sure to wear good running shoes that are properly fitted. It is also important to replace them on a regular basis.

·       Make sure to wear orthotics in your running shoes if you have any abnormal foot position or other discrepancies that can cause avoidable issues.

Thanks to Premier Osteoarthritis Center of Pennsylvania for their insight into knee pain treatment and ITBS.