Iliotibial Band Syndrome (IT Band Syndrome)
Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
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.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
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 (IT band) syndrome facts
- What is iliotibial band (IT band) syndrome?
- What causes iliotibial band (IT band) syndrome?
- What are iliotibial band (IT band) syndrome symptoms and signs?
- How do health-care professionals diagnose iliotibial band (IT band) syndrome?
- What is the treatment for iliotibial band (IT band) syndrome?
- What stretches and exercises are beneficial for iliotibial band (IT band) syndrome?
- What exercises should be avoided with iliotibial band (IT band) syndrome?
- Where can people find more information about iliotibial band (IT band) syndrome?
- Find a local Doctor in your town
Iliotibial band (IT band) syndrome facts
- Iliotibial band syndrome is an overuse injury of the connective issues that are located on the outer thigh and knee.
- The iliotibial band runs along the lateral or outside aspect of the thigh, from the pelvis to the tibia, crossing both the hip and knee joints. The iliotibial band is an important stabilizer structure of the lateral part of the knee as the joint flexes and extends.
- Inflammation and irritation of the iliotibial band can occur as it travels back and forth, crossing 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.
- Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) and anti-inflammatory medications are first-line treatments.
- Physical therapy may be helpful. Surgery is rarely an option and is sometimes suggested for patients who develop chronic inflammation and who fail to respond to other treatment options.
- Prevention that includes maintaining flexibility and strength of the low back, hips, knees, and leg muscles, and is key to avoiding recurrence.
- Iliotibial band syndrome is sometimes called ITBS, IT band syndrome, ITB syndrome, and ITBFS (iliotibial band friction syndrome).
What is iliotibial band (IT band) syndrome?
Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS or IT band syndrome) is an overuse injury of the connective tissues that are located on the lateral or outer part of thigh and knee. It causes pain and tenderness in those areas, especially just above the knee joint. Iliotibial band syndrome is the most common cause of lateral knee pain in runners and bicyclists.
The iliotibial band is a thick band of fascia (tissue) that begins at the iliac crest in the pelvis, runs down the lateral or outside part of the thigh, and crosses the knee to attach into the top part of the tibia or shinbone. It forms from the tensor fascia lata and two of the gluteal muscles (gluteus medius and gluteus minimus) in the buttock and then stretches across the knee. The iliotibial (IT) band helps stabilize the outside part of the knee through its range of motion.
The iliotibial band is one of the hip abductor muscles, moving the hip away from the midline. The iliotibial band also helps with both knee flexion and extension.
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 joint. 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 smoothly 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 scarring develop in the bursa, decreasing knee range of motion and causing increasing pain with decreasing activity.
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