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Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Iliotibial Band Syndrome or 'Ilitibial Band Friction Syndrome' is a common sports injury generally associated with running. This syndrome is bound to cause lateral knee pain in runners. This injury can also be caused by biking, hiking and weight lifting. This Iliotibial band is a thick fibrous tissue that runs from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip, knee and below the knee joint. The band stabilizes the knee during movements like running. The band coordinates with several other thigh muscles and moves from behind the femur in the thigh to the front during the gait cycle. The Iliotibial Band Syndrome refers to the superficial thickening of the tissue that is on the outside of the thigh. Continuous rubbing and flexing of the band causes irritation usually over the outside of the knee joint.


Common causes of the Iliotibial Band Syndrome among runners


  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome occurs when the level of activity increases especially among runners who tend to increase their mileage. Increasing distance too quickly or excessive downhill running is a common cause among runners.
  • Poor training habits in runners can cause this syndrome. While running on an indoor track, the leg bends slightly inwards and this causes extreme stretching of the Iliotibial band and the resultant injury.
  • Inadequate warm up and cool down sessions among sports persons can cause this syndrome.
  • While cycling, having the feet 'toed in' at an extreme and excessive angle can cause the Iliotibial band injury.

Individuals with anatomical abnormalities of the leg such as bow legs, high or low arches, overpronation of the foot and uneven leg length are prone to this condition. Muscle imbalance such as weak hip abductor muscles can lead to iliotibial band syndrome.


Symptoms of this syndrome include pain in the knee joint that worsens with continued movement and resolves on rest. There is persistent pain below the knees or stinging sensation just above the knee joint. Often swelling or thickening is noticed at the point of knee joint where the band moves over the femur. Persons suffering these symptoms must avoid running downhill or squatting, playing tennis or basketball and indulging in martial arts.

Treatment for Iliotibial Band Syndrome normally begins with applying ice the area of injury, selection of proper footwear and stretching routine. While icing, the injured part has to be kept elevated as this helps to reduce swelling. Anti-inflammatory medications and cortisone injections may be prescribed to reduce the inflammation. Surgery is rarely resorted to.

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: October 18, 2017