The iliotibial band is a band of tissue that runs along the outside of the leg from the hip to just below the knee, providing functionality and stability to the knee joint and surrounding area. Iliotibial band syndrome occurs when this band becomes so tight and inflamed that it rubs against the outer portion of the femur, causing irritation and instability to the knee joint. Also known as IT band syndrome, this condition often occurs in people who are physically active, such as runners or cyclists.
Symptoms of Iliotibial Band Syndrome
Frequent bending of the knee during physical activity may result in the symptoms of IT band syndrome, which may include:
- Pain on the outside of the knee
- Hip pain that comes and goes
- Swelling of the knee
Pain may worsen with movement and improve with rest.
Diagnosis of Iliotibial Band Syndrome
IT band syndrome is diagnosed after a physical examination and review of symptoms. An MRI scan may be performed to confirm a diagnosis of this condition, as MRI images may show a thickening of the band, which is often the cause of irritation.
Treatment of Iliotibial Band Syndrome
IT band syndrome is often treated with conservative methods to reduce pain and swelling and may include:
- Applying ice to the affected area
- Anti-inflammatory medications
Stretching exercises are also recommended and physical therapy can help individuals to strengthen muscles and develop methods for exercises to prevent further injury. Cortisone injections may be beneficial if pain does not subside, and in severe cases, surgery may be recommended.