Iliotibial Band Syndrome

In this video Dr. Kate Lakin discusses IT Band Syndrome. She explains what activities can cause irritation along the IT Band and how this can lead to nagging knee pain. Dr. Lakin also discusses common treatment options for this injury and how Airrosti’s approach differs. At Airrosti, we pinpoint the root of pain to treat it directly at the source. Read more about our injury resolution results here.

Iliotibal (IT) Band Syndrome is one of the most common overuse injuries among athletes, particularly runners. When the IT band isn’t working properly, movement of the knee becomes painful and can completely sideline a runner for weeks, or even longer. Learn more about how Airrosti helps patients recovery rapidly from IT band and other sports injuries in a very short amount of time. Airrosti enables athletes to quickly return to pain-free activity without the need for painful or potentially harmful injections and surgical procedures.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)

The iliotibial band (IT band) is a band of fibrous tissue that runs down the outside of the thigh. The IT band interacts with the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteal muscles, and hip flexors. Its primary function is to provide stability to the outside of the knee and hip during movement. The band may overdevelop, tighten, and rub across the hip bone or the outer part of the knee. This condition is particularly common in runners, cyclists, and people who participate in other aerobic activities.

The IT band acts primarily as a stabilizer during running or other strenuous activity and may become irritated from overuse. The pain is typically felt on the outside (lateral) aspect of the knee or lower thigh, but may be felt near the hip, and is often more intense when descending stairs, or getting up from a seated position. IT band pain can be severe enough to completely sideline a runner for weeks or even longer.

IT Band Syndrome can result from any activity that causes the leg to turn inward repeatedly. This can include wearing worn-out shoes, running downhill or on banked surfaces, running too many track workouts in the same direction, or simply running too many miles. Unlike many overuse injuries, however, IT band pain afflicts seasoned runners almost as much as beginners. Muscle tightness or lack of flexibility in the buttock or thigh muscles may increase the risk of IT band injuries. ITBS is more common in women, possibly because some women’s hips tilt in a way that causes their knees to turn in.

Because the most notable symptom is typically swelling and pain on the outside of the knee, many runners mistakenly think they have a knee injury. The best way to tell if you have ITBS is to bend your knee at a 45-degree angle. If you have an IT band problem, you’ll feel pain on the outside of the knee.

Traditional Treatment Options

Once you notice IT band pain, rest is usually recommended. If you don’t give yourself a break from running or other strenuous activity, and you fail to seek treatment to resolve the source of the pain, ITBS can become chronic. The condition may take several weeks to resolve with proper rest, or even up to several months in severe cases. If it doesn’t improve, your doctor may prescribe cortisone injections to break up scar tissue and speed healing. But cortisone presents its own risks, as it can weaken ligaments and tendons. Consider cortisone injections as a “second-to-last resort.” Your last resort with traditional care is surgery to release and mobilize the IT band.

Traditional treatment is troublesome for athletes, since they will likely have to skip running until full recovery. Without proper care from an expert musculoskeletal provider, inflammation and adhesion of inflammatory healing tissue to the surrounding normal tissues can threaten the complete recovery of the injured IT band. Airrosti can resolve your injury quickly and safely, allowing you to return to activity much sooner. More importantly, we can help make sure you achieve a full recovery without the risk of injury recurrence.

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