Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome (ITBFS) is a common complaint of knee pain in runners, cyclist, and other athletes. Most people complain of knee pain local to the lateral (outside) of the knee, just around the joint line. The ITB is a connective tissue that begins on the outside of the hip and attaches around the knee joint. It blends in with the outside of the quadriceps and hamstrings as well as the associated soft tissue of the Patellofemoral joint. Pain and irritation is noted, primarily, with activities that include repetitive knee flexion or impact forces.
ITBFS may be a result of many different factors including hip and gluteal weakness, flexibility disparity, quadriceps weakness and problematic foot and knee biomechanics. Most commonly, it is a combination of several of these factors that lead to pain and irritation in the lateral knee. Many people experience symptoms when they first begin their activity and then pain will subside, only to return later in the workout.
When experiencing knee pain it is best to have a physician evaluate the condition, sooner rather than later, to avoid further damage to the knee and avoid disruption of a training program. Following a physician evaluation, many people will be referred to physical therapy to further evaluate and address biomechanical deficits. Some typical management strategies for ITBFS are ice, stretches for the hip and lower leg, hip/core strengthening, soft tissue massage over the ITB and shoe inserts. Additionally, some people may benefit from gait analysis or bike fit, depending on their mechanism of injury.
If you or someone you know is experiencing these problems contact a qualified healthcare provider.
The author of this article is Mandy Breen, PTA, BS, from Athletico Michigan Ave.