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IT band syndrome
IT band syndrome is a usual cause of knee pain or outer thigh pain, especially seen among runners. In this article, we will discuss about the various causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention of IT band syndrome.

What are the symptoms?

Pain on the outer side of the knee is the main symptom of IT syndrome. It is usually seen among runners and cyclists but it can affect others too. Other symptoms may include:

  • Tenderness or burning on sides of the knees
  • Increase in pain while knee bending
  • Pain along the outer part of the thigh
  • Feeling of tightness along the thigh
  • Increase in pain especially while going downhill

What is IT band?

IT band is a thick bunch of fibres on the outer side of thigh which extends from the hip to the knee. Smooth movement of IT band and muscle is necessary for better functioning. However, sometimes an injury can happen due to repetitive bending of the knee during activities like cycling, running, hiking or walking long distances. This can lead to inflammation and pain.

What are the causes?

Inflammation of iliotibial band is the cause for IT band syndrome. The IT band acts as a stabilizer during physical activities and may get inflamed due to various reasons, which may include:

  • Overuse of knee joint is the main cause
  • Excessive running, cycling
  • Prolonged standing
  • Inactivity
  • Poor biomechanics of lower limb
  • Weak muscles especially gluteal muscles, core and thigh muscles
  • Poor medial arch of the foot (Flat feet)
  • Improper footwear

What is the treatment?

IT band syndrome usually responds well to treatment. Proper evaluation and tailored physiotherapy is needed for a good recovery. It may take up to 6-8 weeks for a person to get back to sports after rehabilitation. Treatment may include:

  • Rest is essential; however for maintaining fitness, the patient can be allowed to swim which does not aggravate the symptoms
  • Anti-inflammatory medications can be given to reduce the pain and inflammation
  • A skilled physiotherapist can educate about proper biomechanics of legs
  • Cryotherapy/ Game ready (which is available only at RxDx Whitefield) for reducing the inflammation
  • Myofascial release is very helpful in relieving the tightness in the IT band
  • Stretches and flexibility exercises targeting the tight structures
  • Progressive strengthening exercises especially focussing on gluteal muscles, core and thigh muscles
  • Functional training: Patient needs to undergo supervised physiotherapy sessions (3 sessions a week for about 4 – 5 weeks) for complete recovery

How can IT band syndrome be prevented?

IT band syndrome can be prevented by identifying the risk factors and modifying them. Preparticipation evaluation is done before the athlete participates in a sports event to rule out potential chances of injury.

Following steps can help in preventing IT band syndrome:

  • Regular strengthening exercises and stretches
  • Proper warm up before the exercise or any sport
  • Proper rest days in between the training days
  • Using right shoes which gives adequate support
  • Gradual increase in training load
  • Strictly no overuse/ overtraining

About The Author

Mr. Nithin Krishna K– MPT, Physiotherapy, RxDx.

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