Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) is an overuse injury. The iliotibial band (ITB) is a thick band of fibrous tissue. It runs from the hip down the outside of the thigh and attaches to the tibia. The tibia is the large bone of the lower leg.
Tendons of the Lateral Knee
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ITBS is caused by repetitive friction or rubbing of the iliotibial band against the bone on the outer side of the knee. This excessive rubbing can irritate the ITB and/or the tissue underneath.
Causes of the excessive friction include:
Factors that increase your risk of getting ITBS include:
Symptoms of ITBS include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. In most cases, diagnosis can be made with a physical exam.
Your ITB function may be tested. This can be done with:
Images may be needed of your leg. This can be done with an MRI scan .
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Recovery time ranges depending on the grade of your injury. Treatment steps may include:
The IT band will need time to heal. Supportive care may include:
Prescription or over-the-counter medications may be advised to reduce pain. Corticosteroid injections may also be advised in some cases.
A physical therapist will assess the IT band. An exercise program will be created to help recovery and to stretch and strengthen the muscles.
Surgery may be needed in cases when other treatments are not effective.
To reduce your chances of ITBS, take these steps:
American College of Sports Medicine
OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Department of Orthopaedics—The University of British Columbia
Baker RL, Souza RB, et al. Iliotibial band syndrome: soft tissue and biomechanical factors in evaluation and treatment. PMR. 2011;3(6):550-561.
Fredericson M, Wolf C. Iliotibial band syndrome in runners: innovations in treatment. Sports Med. 2005;35(5):451-459.
Iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome. http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated July 10, 2013. Accessed February 29, 2016.
Strauss EJ, et al. Iliotibial band syndrome: evaluation and management. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2011 Dec;19(12):728-36.
Last reviewed February 2016 by Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT, OCS
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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