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Iliotibial Band Syndrome


Iliotibial Band Syndrome - Why does this happen?
The iliotibial band is a thick connective tissue which attaches from the outside of the pelvis, over the outer edge of the hip, down the outside of the femur, to the outside of the knee.  This band of connective tissue helps to stabilise the knee during walking and running. 

Iliotibial Band Syndrome is inflammation of the connective tissue due to friction as it moves over the bony areas on the outer part of the leg during knee movement.  This causes pain down the outside of the thigh.


Iliotibial Band Syndrome may occur with an increase in running distance, a change of running surface or change in foot position due to trainers. Muscle imbalance, poor foot position, poor warm up and muscle tightness may be contributing factors.

What are the symptoms?
  • Pain on the outside of the knee.
  • Pain starts as an ache after activity but can become more intense.
  • Pain is worse during and after exercise, particularly running.
  • Pain is relieved after a period of rest.
  • Pain may develop into hip joint.
Diagnosing Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Your GP or Physiotherapist can usually diagnose Iliotibial band Syndrome by simply examining your leg and hearing where the pain is and how it started.


X-rays and other tests are not usually necessary.
What is the treatment?

Iliotibial Band Syndrome pain can usually recover with some simple changes to activity and exercise.  By trying to avoid or reduce the activity which causes the pain, to allow the damaged tissue time to recover and heal


To help reduce the symptoms an 'ice pack' can be placed on the painful area for 15 - 20 minutes, twice a day.  Do not place the 'ice pack' directly on the skin.  Wrap the 'ice pack' in a damp towel before placing on the painful area to ensure you do not burn the skin.  


During the initial painful stages it is important to manage the pain.  
Painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications  -  These may be prescribed by your GP if the pain is costant.  This is a temporary measure to break the pain cycle, but can continue as required.
Exercise  -  Exercise is important to help stretch the tight tissue.  It is important to stretch and strengthen the surrounding muscles and work on your balance to help prevent reoccurrence.  Click here for a list of exercises suitable for Iliotibial Band Syndrome 

Biomechanical Analysis  -   If there are significant mechanical problems insoles or specific trainers may improve your leg position and help avoid further injuries.  A biomechanical assessment by a Podiatrist or Physiotherapist will determine whether insoles or specific trainers would be of benefit.

Physiotherapy  -  If exercise alone does not improve symptoms then physiotherapy treatment may be required.  A physiotherapist can use specific treatments including, ultrasound, deep friction, massage, interferential, acupuncture or taping to help relieve pain and aid recovery. Click here for more information about Physiotherapy.
Injections  -  In some cases your GP or Consultant may recommend an injection.  These can be used to reduce inflammation and pain when the symptoms are severe and constant.  This is not a 'cure' and it is important to follow the exercises and modify activities.  A 'Cortisone Injection' can help reduce inflammation in the tendon, whilst a 'PRP Injection' (Platelet Rich Plasma) can help to stimulate healing.
Surgery  -  This is not common for Iliotibial band Syndrome.  In some cases when symptoms are persistent surgery may be considered.    
Remember an important part of treatment for Iliotibial Band Syndrome your home exercises and modifying activities.