Brief Outline of Iliotibial Band Syndrome
Iliotibial band syndrome is excessive compression or friction of the iliotibial (IT) band over the greater trochanter at the hip joint, and the lateral condyle at the knee joint. This friction causes inflammation, which can be very painful whenever the knees and hips flex or extend, because it crosses over these bony prominences.
Anatomy and physiology
The iliotibial band is a non-elastic collagen cord stretching from the pelvis to below the knee. It is attached to the iliac crest at the top, blends with the tensor fasciae latae and gluteus maximus muscles, and descends down to attach to Gerdy’s tubercle on the lateral proximal tibia. The deep fibres attach to the linea aspera of the femur on the lateral side of the thigh. The tensor fasciae latae flexes, abduts, and medially rotates the hip joint, and stabilises the knee. If the iliotibial band becomes inflamed due to excessive irritation from the friction crossing over the bone, it will cause pain and tightness, possibly leading to bursitis.
Cause of IT Band Syndrome
Compression or friction of the iliotibial band. Repetitive hip and knee flexion and extension wihle the tensor fascae latae is contracted, such as with running. Tight tensor fasciae latae and iliotibial band. Muscle imbalances.
Signs and symptoms
Knee pain over the lateral condyle. Pain with flexion and extension of the knee.
Complications if left unattended
The iliotibial band, and accompanying tensor fasciae latae become tight due to the pain and inflammation. If left unattended this can lead to chronic pain and injuries to the knee and/or hip.
- Anti-inflammatory medication.
Rehabilitation and prevention
Increasing flexibility as pain allows, will help speed recovery. After the pain has subsided, increasing strength and flexibility of all the muscles of the thighs and hips to develop balance will help prevent future issues. Identifying and fixing any errors in running form will also help to prevent recurrence of the injury.
Iliotibial band syndrome can be treated successfully with no lingering effects. Inflammation and pain may return when the activity is resumed and form corrections must be made to prevent future problems.