All about the IT band

All about the IT band

The iliotibial band is a tract of fibrous tissue running down the outside of the leg from the iliac crest (pelvis) to Gerdy’s tubercle on the tibia (knee). Multiple muscles attach to it, including the tensor fascia lata and the gluteus maximus. Because it crosses two joints, it helps with both hip abduction & flexion, and knee extension & external rotation. The IT band also contributes to knee stability.

IT band syndrome usually occurs with overuse and is common in distance runners. People with “knock knees” or “bow legs” are at higher risk, as well as those who always run the same direction on a track. The pain is felt in the lateral knee, where the IT band crosses over the lateral femoral epicondyle, and usually worsens with activity.

Fortunately, this syndrome can by diagnosed in the clinic and rarely requires surgical intervention. Athletes are usually treated conservatively with regimen of NSAID’s and other analgesics while abstaining from painful activity. Physical therapy is used to correct muscular strength imbalances in the leg and improve flexibility of the IT band. Steroid injections are sometimes required for persistent symptoms, however most people are able to gradually return to activity within weeks.

If you have knee pain and are concerned about IT band syndrome, don’t hesitate to set up an appointment! Call Scottsdale Sports Medicine Institute at 480-664-4615.

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