Iliotibial Band Syndrome

What is Iliotibial Band Syndrome?

Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS or IT band syndrome) is an overuse injury of the tissue that runs on the outside of the leg from the pelvis to the knee. It causes pain and tenderness especially just above the knee joint. Iliotibial band syndrome is commonly seen in runners and bicyclists. Work related activities and daily living activities – especially those involving prolonged sitting, standing, climbing or squatting – are also contributors to the syndrome. ITBS accounts for 22% of all overuse injuries in the knee region.

Causes of ITBS

Iliotibial band syndrome is typically caused by inflammation of the iliotibial band and is common in athletes or workers who perform unbalanced, repetitive activities. For example, running along the side of a road, which is normally sloped, causes the outside of the foot to be lower than the inside, resulting in stress to the IT band due to a tilted pelvis. Biomechanical abnormalities such as excessive pronation of the foot, leg length discrepancy, musculature imbalances, decreased flexibility and anatomical malalignment can also contribute to this injury.

Symptoms of ITBS

ITBS symptoms range from a stinging sensation on the outside of the knee
to swelling or thickening of the tissue where the IT band moves over the femur. Pain can also be present above and below the knee, where the IT band attaches to the tibia. A snapping sensation may also be noted on the outside of the knee. You may have pain during activity or immediately after.

Physical Therapy Treatment of ITBS

  • Ice and behavior modification are used to treat initial ITBS pain
  • Modalities for pain and to promote tissue healing may include ultrasound and iontophoresis
  • Flexibility exercises of the lower extremity
  • Biomechanical correction of training errors and abnormalities
  • Soft tissue mobilization and manual therapy
  • Strengthening of the hip and core musculature
Outpatient Physical Therapy