This is a common cause of lateral (outer) knee pain in runners and cyclists. The IT band can become inflamed due to repeated rubbing over bony tissue or other muscle strength and flexibility imbalances along the hip and thigh. The associated pain is known to gradually build during a run resulting in the runner reaching a point where they have to stop running and walk back home. It is effectively treated with non-surgical, exercise based interventions.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
Iliotibial band friction syndrome (ITBFS) is a common overuse related cause of lateral (outer) knee pain in runners, cyclists, and even soccer players. Interestingly, ITBFS is not reported in people who do not exercise. The iliotibial band (ITB) is a fibrous band that runs along the outer aspect of the thigh from the hip to the knee. It is thought to help extend the knee joint.
The precise cause of ITBFS is unclear. We do know that the ITB is under greatest tension when the knee is flexed 30 degrees. This is a common position of knee flexion for runners and cyclists.
Some risk factors for ITBFS include weak and tight muscles of the hip and leg. Additionally, for those of us in Portland, hill workouts, running downhill, and exercise in cold weather are risk factors for ITBFS.
The associated pain is known to gradually build during a run resulting in the runner reaching a point where they have to stop running and walk back home. It is effectively treated with non-surgical, exercise-based interventions.
The knee pain associated with ITBFS can be sharp and painful. It is important to see a sports injury specialist who can properly diagnose this condition based on the history and exam, and imaging like ultrasound.
Additionally, our sports injury clinic is focused on helping you manage the symptoms of ITBFS, improve strength and flexibility deficits, and get you back to sport.