The iliotibial band is a thickening of tissue which is located on the lateral side of the thigh. It runs from the ileum (a bone of the pelvis) to the tibia (a bone of the lower leg). The job of the iliotibial band is to stabilize the knee during physical activities. Iliotibial band syndrome is one of the most common causes of lateral knee pain in runners and cyclists. It is caused by excessive friction between the iliotibial band and either the ileum or tibia. Iliotibial band syndrome symptoms vary with every patient; however, the most common symptom is a stinging sensation just above the knee joint. The pain does not have to occur immediately during activities, but may intensify over time and can persist after activity is ceased. Iliotibial band syndrome is associated with leg length differences, running on a slope for a long time, abnormal foot structure, wearing old shoes, training too hard, muscular imbalances, improper biomechanics, and pregnancy.
In a majority of cases, iliotibial band syndrome can be successfully managed conservatively. An inflamed iliotibial band should be rested, iced, compressed, and elevated (RICE) in order to decrease pain and inflammation. It is important to learn and perform stretches that target the iliotibial band to prevent its future tightness. In some cases, custom foot orthotics are necessary to correct abnormalities of the foot which are the cause of iliotibial band syndrome. As an experienced runner, Dr. Max understands the cause of iliotibial band syndrome and has had a lot of success in treating patients with iliotibial band syndrome.