What is Iliotibial Band Syndrome?

An oftentimes painful condition experienced when the ligament that runs from the hip to the shin, along the outer thigh, becomes highly irritated and inflamed. Iliotibial band syndrome, also sometimes referred to as IT band syndrome, is one of the most common overuse injuries incurred by runners, hikers and cyclists, though it also a common condition in many other sports. If left untreated, it can cause internal scarring, chronic pain and long-term mobility issues that will likely affect your future athletic successes.

Causes

Iliotibial band syndrome can occur as a result of any activity that causes overuse of the legs. This can include:

  • Activities such as long-distance running, hiking and/or cycling
  • Activities that require frequent squatting
  • Running on an incline, including both downhill or uphill
  • Wearing worn-out shoes
  • Improper warm-up (or no warm-up at all) prior to exercise
  • Genetic predisposition, such as slight differences in leg length, a tilted pelvis or bowed legs

Symptoms

By far, the most common symptom of iliotibial band syndrome is moderate to severe pain. The pain is almost always felt along the side of the knee and typically occurs at the femoral epicondyle, where the iliotibial band usually becomes most inflamed. While this pain may begin as mild, it will gradually worsen and become more prominent over time.

Other symptoms to keep an eye out for include:

  • Tingling or needle-like sensations, particularly when the heel hits the ground
  • Swelling around or below the knee
  • Pain that radiates up the iliotibial band to the outer thigh
  • Snapping or popping sounds at the knee
  • Disabling pain that makes walking and climbing stairs very difficult, in the event that your iliotibial band syndrome is left untreated or becomes severe

The OrthoCARE Treatment Approach

One of the most important components of care for iliotibial band syndrome is rest. This can be difficult if you’re an avid runner or athlete, but prompt rest can help prevent pain from returning while giving the inflamed areas a chance to heal. Iliotibial band syndrome can become chronic and induce long-term effects if you do not allow yourself proper rest.

At OrthoCARE Institute, we generally recommend a combination of conservative treatments to successfully treat iliotibial band syndrome. These treatments may include:

  • Hot and cold therapy
  • Rest and limited activity
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Light stretching or physical therapy
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Cortisone injections

On rare occasions, a surgical procedure may be recommended to effectively treat the iliotibial band. During your consultation, our experienced orthopedic surgeons will determine the best treatment plan based on your unique goals, health history and the severity of your condition. For more information about OrthoCARE Institute or to schedule a consultation with one of our expert physicians today, give us a call at 972-573-7802 or fill out the form on our Contact Us page. We strive to keep each of our patients active, pain-free and healthy!