The IT band (also known as iliotibial band) is a group of tough fibrous tissue that runs from the hip to the knee along the outside of the thigh. The function of the IT band is to provide stability to the knee joint in conjunction with other muscle groups. The injury, sometimes called IT Band syndrome or IT Band friction syndrome, is more common in athletes who run and who have increased their mileage, have bio-mechanical problems with their gait or who consistently run on just one side of the road. So are IT band issues causing your knee pain? Keep reading to find out.
More on IT Band Issues
Biomechanical problems can occur in runners who overpronate, have a leg length discrepancy or are bow-legged. Each of these issues, as well as running on the same side of the road, puts increased stress on one side of the body over the other. This stress results in inflammation of the IT band and the symptoms that follow.
Diagnosis of the condition doesn’t require much testing. Often the practitioner will take a thorough history and ask about other injuries in the past. Pain on the outside of the knee or mid-thigh can be caused by other conditions, so a thorough examination will rule out other conditions.
Symptoms will include swelling and stiffness in the knee, redness and warmth at the joint, popping or crunching noises in the joint and an inability to fully straighten the knee. If the injury increases in severity you may feel as though your knee will ‘give out’ on you. If you experience these symptoms it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible for treatment recommendations.
How To Treat IT Band Issues
Treatment includes rest from activities that increase the pain and discomfort. You can cross train using swimming, running in the pool and cycling. Once you aren’t experiencing pain with movement you can start incorporating side stretches that stretch the IT band, as well as stretches for the quads and hamstrings to stay balanced. Another great way to help with IT Band Syndrome is to use a foam roller and work on the different muscles surrounding the knee. The following video will give you some stretches and exercises you can do to help with your IT band issues:
If your IT band issues don’t resolve themselves with the combination of rest, cross training, ice and stretching, then it’s time to see a sports medicine physician. You have to eliminate the reason for developing the condition so it won’t come back. Otherwise, you could be facing a chronic IT Band Syndrome which will seriously limit the amount and kind of running you can do. See below for additional resources on IT band issues and knee pain.