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Iliotibial band syndrome

Iliotibial band syndrome

Iliotibial band syndrome is a common overuse injury that causes pain on the outside of the knee in runners.    Iliotibial band syndrome can also be irritated by activities such as swimming and cycling.  The Iliotibial band (IT band) is a thick band of fascia that runs down the outside of the leg from the hip to the outside of the knee. 

What causes Iliotibial band syndrome?

Iliotibial band syndrome is most likely caused by a combination of factors. This would include anything that increases compression and irritation of the fat pad that lies underneath the insertion of the IT band.  This can happen during running, cycling, squatting and going up and down hills.  It is common for there to have been an increase in training load around the time the pain started.  Other factors such as biomechanics and muscle weakness also play a part in developing this condition.

What are the symptoms of Iliotibial band syndrome?

  • Sharp or burning pain at the outside of the knee
  • The pain sometimes radiates into the outer thigh
  • The pain is normally worse going downstairs
  • Running, especially downhill can irritate your pain
  • Sometimes there is swelling at the outside of the knee

How is Iliotibial band syndrome diagnosed?

Gait analysis

The diagnosis is normally made from a good history taking and from the symptoms you present with.  When you come into the clinic, we will spend time to understand how your symptoms first presented, what irritates them and what makes them better.  We will also try and ascertain whether there were any changes to your training, footwear or running gait before the pain started.  Using either 2D video or our state-of-the-art 3D gait analysis, we can begin to truly understand the biomechanics of why you developed the problem in the first place. 

How is Iliotibial band syndrome treated?

In the short term, symptoms will normally improve if you do not overuse the knee.  That’s not to say you can’t still continue to train, but it is important that we manage your training load appropriately.

However, it is important that you are assessed by either a Physiotherapist or Sports Podiatrist.  By understanding the mechanism of your injury, we can then put in place a bespoke exercise plan to effectively rehabilitate your problem in the long term.  We can also advise on whether orthotics/insoles may help your pain, and advise you what training is best to carry on with, and what best to avoid.  The long-term outlook of Iliotibial band syndrome is good, and most people make a full recovery with the correct rehabilitation and training modification.

If you would like to book an appointment for assessment or gait analysis, please get in touch. Our expert Podiatrists are here to help resolve your pain and get you back running as soon as possible.