IT band syndrome also known as iliotibial band syndrome is an overuse condition commonly seen in runners. IT band syndrome is the second most common cause of knee pain due to overuse. The IT band is a fibrous band of tissue that originates from the lateral aspect of the hip and courses down to the lateral aspect of the knee. The IT band helps with knee stability and knee extension.
IT band syndrome may be due to weak hip muscles, lower leg muscle inflexibility and length leg differences. Other causes include sudden increase in mileage with running or cycling, inappropriate stride, exercising in cold weather, excessive running in the same direction on a track and running footwear with increased height and width.
IT band syndrome typically causes lateral knee pain. Initially the pain comes and goes and then may progress to a constant pain.
The diagnosis of IT band syndrome is made based on history and physical examination. Radiological studies such as x-rays or ultrasound are not needed for a diagnosis but it may be helpful to determine if the symptoms are due to another cause.
The treatment of IT band syndrome initially includes activity modification, icing and anti-inflammatories or pain-relievers. After the initial pain phase, physical therapy is very important to address strength and mobility issues that may be underlying.
For those that do not improve with physical therapy, alternative therapies such as injections may be considered.
The return to activity and sports is done progressively.