Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome (ITB Friction Syndrome) is a common overuse injury which generally gives pain on the outside of the knee. It tends to occur in running based activities. Being an overuse injury, it is caused by repeated trauma rather than a specific incident.

The Iliotibial Band is a thick band of fibrous tissues that runs down the outside of the leg from the pelvis to the tibia (shinbone). The gluteal or buttock muscle fibres and the tensor fascia latae (muscles of the hip joint) attach to it, and the band acts to coordinate muscle function and stabilize the knee during running.

Injury

  • Iliotibial band friction syndrome is typically caused by inflammation of the Iliotibial band
  • The IT band attaches to the knee and helps stabilize and move the joint. When the IT band isn’t working properly, inflammation may occur, and movement of the knee becomes painful
  • Muscle imbalances, abnormal biomechanics or training improperly can lead to ITB friction syndrome

What do I feel?

  • Pain on outside of the knee (lateral knee pain) or on the outer portion of the hip. Pain can refer into the buttocks
  • Pain is aggravated by bending knee (e.g. when running or using stairs). It may start as a dull ache and intensify through exercise

What can I do?

  • Sleeping on side with a pillow between your knees may reduce pain
  • Ice area after exercise
  • Management may include anti-inflammatory medications and/or orthotics to improve abnormal gait and running patterns
  • See a physiotherapist for rehabilitation and exercises

It is important to consult a health professional as ITB friction syndrome does not typically resolve itself. Continuing to aggravate the condition can further increase symptoms and lead to a longer recovery.