A potential cause of pain on the outside of the knee.
What is the iliotibial band (ITB)?
The ITB is a thick band of connective tissue that runs from the hip down to the outside of the knee. At the knee there is a bony protuberance (bump) named the lateral epicondyle of the femur also positioned on the outside edge of the knee. As the knee bends and straightens, the ITB moves forward and backwards over this bony landmark.
The function of the ITB is to stabilise the pelvis and assists with movement of the hip. It also assists movement of the knee depending on the position of the joint.
What causes ITBS?
There is much debate surrounding the cause of this injury however the consensus is that there are two major contributing factors:
- Poor hip (abduction) strength (gluteal muscle group and tensor fascia lata)
- Compression of the ITB as it flicks over the lateral epicondyle (bone) of the femur when the knee bends and straightens
What are the symptoms?
- Often feels like a sharp or burning pain on the outside of the knee
- Worse with repetitive activity like pedalling or running
- Worsens when running downhill or going downstairs
- Potential of swelling on outside of the knee
What is the best treatment?
- Rest from aggravating activities and modify activities
- Physiotherapy to address potential biomechanical issues with running form
- Manual therapy for areas of increased muscle tension in glutes and quadriceps
- Strengthen hip abduction and stabilising muscles