IT Band Syndrome

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (IT Band)

Iliotibial band syndrome (IT Band) is a leading cause of lateral (outer) thigh and knee pain in runners. The IT band extends from the pelvis to the outer lower part of the knee.  The syndrome involves continual rubbing of the band over other structures, often resulting in pain, tightness, and sometimes swelling.  Often an isolated traumatic event is not involved. Pain often occurs when the foot strikes the ground.  Symptoms may not occur at the immediate onset of activities but may progress as the activity continues.  Pain may be felt after the cessation of activities, often at night.

Young athletes that are growing and experience a rapid increase in heavy activities are at risk.  Individuals who have the restriction of motion at the hip or knee are also at risk.

Diagnosis is based on a combination of history, physical examination, and radiographs.  Plain x-rays will not show the IT Band but can reveal related findings, such as a bone spur or calcific deposit.  An MRI of the elbow is often not needed initially but can be obtained if symptoms persist.

Treatment surrounds conservative care to include icing, activity modifications, anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and diligent stretching.  Injection therapy may be considered if initial treatment measures do not resolve the problem.  Rarely is surgical intervention indicated?  The great majority of patients respond to nonsurgical treatment.

If you are experiencing lateral thigh/knee pain with activities, contact your physician to schedule a consultation.

Al DeSimone (954) 389-5900