What Is I.T. Band Syndrome?

 

When we say I.T. Band, we are referring to the "iliotibial band". This is the tendon that connects the hip muscles to the upper leg (tibia). The attachment is just below the knee ( outer side of the front of the leg.)

 

What exactly is happening in I.T. Band syndrome?


Where the tendon passes the knee (lateral femoral condyle) there is a bursa sac between the bone and the tendon. This tendon moves over a bony bump at the outer knee as it passes in front and behind it.

 

Common Signs and Symptoms of I.T. Band Syndrome

 

Here are some common symptoms when you are experiencing I.T. Band Syndrome:

 

  • Pain, tenderness, swelling, warmth, or redness over the iliotibial band at the outer knee (above the joint); may travel up or down the thigh or leg

  • Pain throughout an activity, worsening as the activity continues

  • Pain that is worse when running

  • Pain that is felt most when the foot of the affected leg hits the ground

  • Possibly, crepitation (a crackling sound) when the tendon or bursa is moved or touched

 

IT Band Syndrome Causes

 

 

I.T. band syndrome is caused by excessive friction of the iliotibial band and the underlying bursa due to repetitive knee-bending activities. This is an overuse injury, although direct trauma to the outer knee may cause the bursa to get inflamed. Often the deceleration of running down hills may lead to the excessive friction.

 

 

I.T. Band Syndrome Risk Factors

 

 

The following factors may increase the risk of I.T. Band syndrome

 

  • Sports with repetitive knee-bending activities, such as distance running and cycling

  • Incorrect training techniques, including sudden changes in the amount, frequency, or intensity of the training, as well as inadequate rest between workouts

  • Poor physical conditioning (strength and flexibility), especially tight iliotibial band

  • Inadequate warm-up before practice or play

  • Arthritis of the knee​

 

Possible Complications of I.T. Band Syndrome

 

  • Prolonged healing time if not appropriately treated or if not given adequate time to heal

  • Chronically inflamed tendon and bursa, causing persistent pain with activity that may progress to constant pain

  • Recurrence of symptoms if the activity is resumed too soon through overuse, a direct blow, or poor training technique

  • Inability to complete training or competition

 

 

How Can You Prevent I.T. Band Syndrome?

 

By taking the following steps, you may be able to prevent I.T. Band Syndrome

 

  • Warm up and stretch before practice or competition.

  • Allow time for adequate rest and recovery between practices and competition.

  • Maintain appropriate conditioning.

  • Use proper training technique, including reducing mileage run, shortening stride, and avoiding running on hills and banked surfaces.

  • Wear arch supports (orthotics) if you have flat feet.