Overcoming IT Band Syndrome of the Knee

Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) occurs when irritation causes pain at the outside part of the knee. The iliotibial band (ITB), often referred to as the “IT band” is a type of soft tissue that runs along the side of the thigh from the pelvis to the knee.

Symptoms of IT Band syndrome include:

  • Stabbing or stinging pain along the outside of the knee
  • A feeling of the ITB “snapping” over the knee as it bends and straightens
  • Swelling near the outside of your knee
  • Occasionally, tightness and pain at the outside of the hip
  • Continuous pain following activity

Some movements that can be painful in the presence of  IT Band syndrome include running, walking, steps, squats, and lunges.  In addition, there may be increased symptoms following a bout of exercise or training.

In our physical therapy office, the first recommendation that we usually make is to take a short break from any aggravating activity on the knee. This allows for an environment for initial inflammation to settle down pain to subside. While taking a break usually helps with pain, we know for our patients to get back to the activities that they enjoy without recurrent injury, we have to address the root of the issue.

In many cases, IT Band syndrome is coupled with poor mobility of the hips and the ankle. This can be combined with weakness of the hip abductor and rotator muscles muscles.  In addition, if there are imbalances at the core and thigh muscles, the way an active person moves can be affected which may lead to faulty knee mechanics.  However, the only way to know what is contributing to pain and injury is to perform a movement assessment.

When pain and stiffness is found via the assessment, our approach includes manual mobilization to alleviate pain and improve mobility. Pain improvements can be made very quickly with restoration hip and shin mobility.  This might initially soft tissue mobilization and/or dry needling of the gluteal medius and tensor fascia lata muscles.

If weakness is found, we teach activation exercises to help our clients better engage muscles that are not firing well. Once pain is controlled and muscles engage better, our next step is developing core and lower body strength.  We teach our patients how to run, squat, lunge, and hinge without pain.  When performed with good technique and without pain, these exercises can be powerful for developing strength and durability.

When addressed with a through physical therapy assessment and plan of care, IT Band syndrome is a condition that can be managed without medications or procedures.  However, any sort of repetitive activity with poor mechanics can result in excessive wear and tear of the knee.  If you feel like you may be developing IT Band syndrome, the physical therapists at Movement Solutions would be glad help.

We have a free guide on relieving knee pain that can give you further insight into knee problems and help kickstart your recovery.  We are available for a free 15-minute phone consultation to talk about how your pain is affecting you and discuss your treatment options.

If your concerns warrant an in-person consultation, we offer a limited number of free Discovery Visits at our office.  This type of appointment of for those who are interested in working with us.  It is an opportunity to ask questions, obtain clarity about your condition, and develop confidence that we can help you.  If you’re in pain and unsure about what your next step (p should be, call us at (864) 558-7346 and ask how we can help.

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