Iliotibial band syndrome

Iliotibial band syndrome is characterized by soreness of the iliotibial band on the exterior of the knee as it brushes on the exterior of the joint. It triggers knee pain on the outside that develops in a gradual manner over time and worsens until the individual is forced to stop running.

There are factors that puts one at risk to develop the syndrome. Having naturally tight or a wide IT band makes one susceptible to the injury. In addition, weak hip muscles especially the gluteus medius is also a main factor. Poor foot biomechanics might increase the risk as well.

What are the indications?

Iliotibial band syndrome
Knee pain on the outside of the joint, specifically at or around the lateral epicondyle of the bony protuberance on the outside of the knee.
  • Knee pain on the outside of the joint, specifically at or around the lateral epicondyle of the bony protuberance on the outside of the knee.
  • Discomfort or pain arises at a certain time into a run and gradually worsens until the individual is forced to stop
  • Pain is aggravated by running downhill
  • Pain is produced when straightening or bending the knee
  • Pain is aggravated if the side of the knee over the sore area is pressed
  • Tightness in the iliotibial band running down the exterior of the thigh
  • Weakness when moving the leg out sideways
  • There are tender trigger points in the buttocks

Management of iliotibial band syndrome

There are several options in treating iliotibial band syndrome. The main objective is to reduce the pain and inflammation that is followed by stretching and conditioning the muscles to prevent recurrence of the injury when returning to activity.

  • Rest – adequate rest is essential to allow the inflamed tendon to recuperate. Initial complete rest is recommended but alternative activities that do not aggravate the pain such as cycling or swimming can be done to maintain the fitness level.
  • Medications – anti-inflammatory medications are usually prescribed by the doctor. These are useful during the initial acute phase to minimize the pain and inflammation.
  • Cryotherapy – apply an ice pack to reduce the inflammation and pain. The application should be 10-15 minutes every hour until the pain settles. The frequency is lowered to 2 or 3 times throughout the day.
  • Sports massage – this helps relax and loosen the tissues in the affected area.
  • Electrotherapy – techniques such as ultrasound or TENS work by reducing the pain and inflammation

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on ililotibial band syndrome is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage knee injuries, register for a first aid and CPR course with Victoria First Aid.

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