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The IT Band’s role and Preventing IT Band Syndrome

By: Alyssa Burke, PTA

The IT Band is a part of body that is somewhat of a mystery to many. You’ve probably heard of the IT band. But are you confident about where it is or what it does? We’ll answer these questions today. The IT band is the abbreviation for the iliotibial band. This band is an extension of your hip muscles. It is a long band of connective tissue or fascia that runs down the outside of your thigh from your hip to just below your knee. When there is inflammation related to the IT band, it is often noticed along the outside of the knee or the pain can refer up to the outside of the hip. This inflammation and the pain that often comes along with it is known as IT band syndrome.

There is a lot of conflicting research when it comes to IT band syndrome. Older research suggests IT band syndrome is a result of friction from the IT band rubbing on the bones in the knee from repetitive knee bending and straightening. This theory also suggests that in order to get rid of the symptoms, patients should primarily focus on stretching the IT band. This will help lengthen it and decrease the rubbing between the bones and the IT band. Upon further research however, experts found that the IT band doesn’t actually come in contact with the bones in your knee joint.

Newer research has shown the irritation you feel with IT band syndrome is that of a fat pad, or bursa, between the bones that make up the knee joint and the IT band. The irritation of the fat pad happens when there are poor mechanics due to muscle weakness. This causes your body to move incorrectly and put extra stress when it shouldn’t be. This additional stress and weakness cause irritation with and often pain with daily activities. Walking or running is painful. Getting up from a chair or walking up and down stairs causes pain. These are all common complaints we hear from patients who are dealing with IT band syndrome.

If you have IT Band syndrome, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Pain and/or tenderness on the outside of your knee
  • You may also notice clicking or popping with movement

If IT Band syndrome is ignored, it can lead to poor mechanics and has the possibility to lead to pain in other joints. The pain could worsen and could start to keep your from your exercise, sports and recreational activities. Or it could progress and cause you to have pain with simple every day activities like walking, using the stairs or even sitting or standing.

Physical Therapy can help if you are suffering from IT band syndrome. We will assess your symptoms and create a plan of care to focus on stretching, strengthening and correcting body mechanics to get you back to your activities and goals with less pain and better mechanics. Call our office TODAY at 703-450-4300 and start handling this pain right away. CLICK HERE for more on how physical therapy can help you.

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