The iliotibial band (i.e. IT band) is a thick band of tissue that runs along the lateral thigh. It crosses the hip and knee joints while helping to control the leg angle leg when running. IT band friction syndrome occurs when there is pain over the outer side of the knee during running. Risk factors include a tight IT band, weak hip muscles or foot over-pronation. With activities such as running, the repetitive rubbing of the iliotibial band over bursae causes pain.
The pain can be felt over the outer part of the hip or knee joint. In the hip, the pain is sometimes reproduced if the affected leg is crossed. In the knee, sharp pain can occur when squatting or going down stairs.
If you are experiencing hip or knee pain associated with leg weakness, numbness, or shooting pain down the leg, you should seek medical attention for a thorough evaluation.
Apply a cold pack 10 to 15 minutes at a time to the painful area or take pain medications. It is helpful to reduce the duration and intensity of running and sports when you’re experiencing this pain.
You may be referred to see a sports physiotherapist who will evaluate your running biomechanics and teach you IT band stretching and leg strengthening exercises. Your doctor may prescribe pain medications for temporary relief. Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory medications that can be injected into the bursa to provide pain relief. Your physician may prescribe orthotics if it is found that abnormal foot biomechanics is contributing to your IT band syndrome.
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