What Is IT Band Syndrome? IT band syndrome is inflammation and pain on the outer side of the knee. The iliotibial band is a layer of connective tissue. It begins at a muscle near the outer side of your hip, travels down the outer side of your thigh, crosses the outer side of the knee, and attaches to the outer side of your upper shin bone tibia.
How Does It Occur? IT band syndrome occurs when this band repeatedly rubs over the bump of the thigh bone (femur) near the knee, causing the band to become irritated. This most often occurs in running.
This condition can result from:
- 1) Having a tight iliotibial band
- 2) Having tight muscles in your hip, pelvis, or leg
- 3) Your legs not being the same length
- 4) Running on sloped surfaces
- 5) Running in shoes with a lot of wear on the outside of the heel.
What Are The Symptoms Of IT Band Syndrome? The symptom is pain on the outer side of the knee.
How Is It Diagnosed? Your doctor will examine your knee and find tenderness where the band passes over the bump on the outer side of your knee. Your iliotibial band may be tight.
How Is IT Band Syndrome Treated? Treatment includes the following:
- 1. Place an ice pack over your iliotibial band for 20 to 30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours for 2 to 3 days or until the pain goes away.
- 2. Take an anti-inflammatory medication, according to your doctor's prescription.
- 3. Do the stretching exercises recommended by your doctor or physical therapist.
Your doctor may give you an injection of a corticosteroid medication to reduce the inflammation and pain. While your knee is healing, you will need to change your sport or activity to one that does not make your condition worse. For example, you may need to bicycle instead of run.
When Can I Return To My Sport Or Activity? The goal of rehabilitation is to return you to your sport or activity as soon as is safely possible. If you return too soon you may worsen your injury, which could lead to permanent damage. Everyone recovers from injury at a different rate. Return to your sport or activity will be determined by how soon your knee recovers, not by how many days or weeks it has been since your injury occurred. In general, the longer you have symptoms before you start treatment, the longer it will take to get better.
You may safely return to your sport or activity when, starting from the top of the list and progressing to the end, each of the following is true:
- 1. Your injured knee can be fully straightened and bent without pain.
- 2. Your knee and leg have regained normal strength compared to the uninjured knee and leg.
- 3. You are able to jog straight ahead without limping.
- 4. You are able to sprint straight ahead without limping.
- 5. You are able to do 45-degree cuts.
- 6. Your are able to do 90-degree cuts.
- 7. You are able to do 20-yard figure-of-eight runs.
- 8. You are able to do 10-yard figure-of-eight runs.
- 9. You are able to jump on both legs without pain and jump on the injured leg without pain.
How Can I Prevent IT Band Syndrome? IT band syndrome is best prevented by warming up properly and doing stretching exercises before sports or other physical activity.
IT Band Syndrome Rehabilitation Exercises: You may do stretching exercises 1 through 5 and strengthening exercises 6 through 10 right away.
- IT band stretch (standing): Cross your injured leg over your leg and bend down to touch your toes . Hold this position for 30 seconds. Come up to the starting position. Repeat 3 times.
- IT band stretch (side-leaning): Stand sideways to a wall, your injured leg toward the inside. Place the hand nearest the wall on the wall for support. cross your uninjured leg over the injured leg, keeping the foot the injured leg stable. Lean into the wall Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and repeat. Do 2 sets of 10.
- Standing calf stretch: Face a wall and put your hands against the wall at about eye level. Keep your injured leg back, your uninjured leg forward, and the heel of your injured leg on the floor. Turn the foot on your injured leg slightly inward (as if you were pigeon-toed) as you slowly lean into the wall until you feel a stretch in the back of your calf. Hold for 30 seconds. Do this several times a day.
- Hamstring stretch: Lie on your back with your buttocks close to a doorway and extend your legs straight out in front of you. Raise your injured leg and rest it against the wall next to the door frame. Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds, feeling a stretch.
All material provided is designed for information purposes only and should not be used to replace the care of a health care professional. Do not rely on any of the information for diagnosis or treatment. It is recommended that you visit a qualified health care professional for individual and personal attention.