Did you know that IT band syndrome, also known as iliotibial band syndrome, commonly affects cyclists, basketball players, runners, and skiers?
If you experience pain in the outer part of your thigh or knee while running or engaging in other physical activities, you may be dealing with IT band syndrome. This is a common injury that many athletes suffer from.
To help you understand the causes of IT band syndrome and what your treatment options are, we have put together a guide. Keep reading to find out more.
What Is IT Band Syndrome?
IT band syndrome is a common overuse injury that affects the knee and thigh. The iliotibial band is a thick band of fibrous tissue that runs along the outer side of the thigh, from the hip to the knee.
When this band becomes tight or inflamed, it can cause pain, stiffness, and discomfort in the affected area. People who suffer from this condition typically experience pain on the outside of their knees.
IT band syndrome is caused by repetitive movements. This includes activities such as running on the same surface, running downhill, or cycling on a stationary bike with a seat that is too high.
Tightness in the hip muscles and leg muscles can also contribute to the development of IT band syndrome.
Different Types of IT Band Syndrome
There are several different types of IT band syndrome, each with its own unique set of symptoms and causes. Here are the most common types of this syndrome.
Acute It Band Syndrome
This type of IT band syndrome occurs suddenly and is usually caused by a single traumatic event. It is especially common for people to have this type of IT band syndrome after they fall or suffer from a direct blow to the knee.
Symptoms include severe pain, swelling, and difficulty walking or bearing weight on the affected leg.
Chronic It Band Syndrome
This type of IT band syndrome develops gradually over time and is typically caused by repetitive motions, such as running or cycling. Symptoms include a gradual onset of pain and discomfort, which typically worsens with activity.
Retro IT Band Syndrome
Retro IT band syndrome affects the back of the knee and is often caused by overuse of the hip flexors and knee extensors. You will probably notice that the back of your knee is tender.
Anterior It Band Syndrome
This type of IT band syndrome is caused by overuse of the hip flexors, quadriceps, and knee extensors. Symptoms include pain and tenderness at the front of the knee.
IT Band Syndrome Symptoms
The symptoms of IT band syndrome can vary, but the most common include pain and discomfort on the outer side of the knee or thigh. This will especially be the case during physical activity.
The pain may start as a dull ache. But it can become sharp or burning over time.
You may also experience stiffness, tenderness, or soreness on the outer knee or thigh. This is why sometimes it can be hard to differentiate muscle pain from muscle soreness.
Other symptoms to look out for include swelling, and a popping or snapping sensation when moving the knee. Some people with IT band syndrome may also experience difficulty walking or bearing weight on the affected leg.
It’s worth noting that some people may have IT band syndrome and not feel any pain or discomfort at all, but instead experience weakness or a lack of stability in the affected knee.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you suspect you may have IT band syndrome, it is important to see a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis.
The process typically involves a physical examination and a review of your medical history, as well as any symptoms you may be experiencing. Your healthcare provider may also order imaging tests.
This might include performing an x-ray or MRI to rule out other potential causes of knee pain.
Treatment options will depend on the severity and stage of your IT band syndrome, as well as any underlying factors that may have contributed to its development.
With this being said, the best treatment options include physical therapy, medications, orthopedic inserts, and rest.
What Are the Causes?
IT band syndrome is caused by repetitive motions, such as running or cycling on a surface that is too hard or slanted.
Tightness or weakness in the hip muscles and leg muscles can also contribute to the development of IT band syndrome. It’s also common among runners.
This is because of the repetitive nature of running and the constant impact on the legs.
How Can I Prevent It?
To prevent IT band syndrome, you will need to maintain proper form during physical activity and incorporate strength training exercises that target the muscles in the hip and thigh.
Stretching the IT band before and after physical activity can also help to alleviate pain and prevent injury. Cross-training and avoiding the overuse of one specific activity also helps to prevent this syndrome.
It can also be helpful to use proper footwear and avoid running or cycling on hard or slanted surfaces.
Find an IT Band Syndrome Treatment Today
It can be frustrating to suffer from IT band syndrome. But the good news is that there are various treatment options. The first thing you should do is get rest and apply ice to the outer side of the knee and thigh.
If this does not help, you should consider getting physical therapy.
Are you ready to get help to recover from IT band syndrome? If so, don’t hesitate to contact us today!