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IT band syndrome

The iliotibial band (IT band) is a long, broad band of tissue that runs along the outer thigh. It starts at the top of the hip, and runs down the side of the thigh, and attaches down below the knee. The IT band helps provide stability to the knee. IT band syndrome is pain at the outer part of the knee, caused by friction of the IT band over the end of the femur (thigh bone). This usually occurs in endurance athletes, such as long distance runners and cyclists. It can also be a problem for adolescents going through a rapid growth spurt. It is common in both men and women, and can occur at any age. Individuals with IT band syndrome complain of pain on the outside of the knee, or sometimes pain up higher at the outside of the hip. The painful area is often tender to touch, worse with activity, and sometimes people complain of clicking over the outside part of the knee. If left untreated, it can sometime result in decreased range of motion of the knee.
IT band syndrome is an overuse injury, and gets worse with increased activity. It is usually due to decreased flexibility of the IT band, weakness of the core and hip muscles, and sometimes associated with poor foot mechanics. There can also be structural causes including a difference in leg length, pelvic position, or bowing of the lower leg. IT band pain may begin due to problems in training, such as when a runner consistently runs in the same location that is slightly sloped or banked, creating a relative difference in leg length, or if a cyclist does not have the proper alignment set up for foot position, causing increased friction across the knee joint.
Physical Therapy can successfully treat IT band syndrome without need for medication. Surgical intervention is rarely needed for IT band syndrome. A physical therapist will evaluate the knee and hip, including range of motion, strength, quality of motion, and functional ability. Physical therapy treatment will include hands-on treatment to relieve soft tissue restrictions of the hip and thigh, and improve mobility. It also includes specific therapeutic exercises and activities to improve strength of the hip and knee. We use different taping techniques to relieve swelling and soft tissue tightness. Various modalities such as cold pack, compression, and electrical stimulation are often used to relieve pain iand reduce inflammation. The therapist will also assess running or cycling mechanics, including foot wear, running posture, or bike alignment.
If you are experiencing symptoms that sound like this and want to know more, come see us at InMotion OC for a FREE consultation for Physical Therapy.

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