By Dr Tony Setiobudi BMedSci, MBBS, MRCS, MMed (Ortho), FRCS (Ortho)
The Iliotibial Band, often referred to as the “IT Band’, is an important muscle that helps to extend, abduct, and rotate your hips. However, it is one of the most common places for sports injuries to occur. Endurance athletes such as long-distance runners and cyclists are more susceptible to getting IT band syndrome.
The IT band is a long piece of connective tissue that extends along the outside of the leg from hip to outside of the knee and shinbone. The IT band serves as a connection between many of the major hip muscles and the knee. IT band syndrome occurs when this band becomes so tight and inflamed that it rubs against the lateral epicondyle of femur, causing irritation to the knee joint and surrounding tendons. The overuse of the IT band is what is referred to as IT band syndrome.
The symptoms of IT Band Syndrome may vary from person to person, but some of the common symptoms are:
- Pain when running, cycling or other activities involving the knee.
- Swelling, redness around the knee.
- Aching, burning feeling that sometimes spreads up the thigh to the hip.
- Feeling a click, pop or snap on the outside of the knee
The pain can worsen if the person continues the activity causing the pain. The key treatment for IT Band syndrome is to stop the activity that causes inflammation and rest.
The most common cause of IT Band syndrome is due to overuse of the IT band. Wrong technique and improper stretching prior to exercise can lead to this syndrome. Research at Stanford found that weak hip muscles can be one of the biggest reasons people get IT band Syndrome. Weak muscles in the hip tend to put lots of stress on the tissues in the knee, thus the IT band may be under more stress.
Some targeted stretching and exercise can help treat the conditions. It can help ease or even prevent IT band syndrome by improving the flexibility and strengthening key muscles. This video shows some of the exercises you can do at home to treat the injury.
Dr Tony Setiobudi is an Orthopaedic & Spine Surgeon at Mount Elizabeth Hospital (Orchard), Singapore. He treats bone, joint, muscle and ligament problems in adults and children. He has a special interest in nerve compression and spine problems such as back & neck pain, scoliosis, kyphosis, spine tumor & infection, spinal cord injury, osteoporosis fracture, spinal stenosis and slipped disc.