IT Band Syndrome | Total Performance Physical Therapy

IT Band Syndrome

December 28, 2012

What is it? How is does it occur?

Iliotibial band syndrome

The Iliotibial band or IT band is a long band of dense connective tissue that runs from the hip to the outside of the lower leg.  The IT band works to help prevent the leg from turning inward during activities like walking and running and helps us as humans to stand in an upright posture.

These are a few of the muscles surrounding the knee along with the iliotibial band


The main cause of IT band syndrome is overuse.  This injury is common in many athletes like runners and cyclists due to the fact that their legs are repetitively moving in one direction.  As the knee bends and straightens, the IT band moves back and forth over the bony portion of the femur or thigh bone.  This can irritate the tissue and cause inflammation which leads to pain over the outside portion of the knee and lower thigh.  Another cause of pain from IT band syndrome is compression of a fat pad located underneath the IT band.  The fat pad has many nerve cells and when the IT band swells the nerve cells get compressed or squished which can cause pain.


Some key contributing factors that can lead to IT band syndrome include:

This depicts how the IT Band moves back and forth at the knee.

Signs and Symptoms

Diagnosis and Treatment

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If you feel pain on the outside of the knee that does not go away within 1-2 weeks, it is recommended that you see your physical therapist.  Your physical therapist can diagnose IT band syndrome using information from a brief medical and social history, as well as a comprehensive examination where special tests will be used to test the strength, flexibility, and integrity of the muscles of the hips and IT band itself.  Once the causes of IT band syndrome are teased out a program to enhance strength, endurance, and flexibility will be prescribed to address them.  Your physical therapist will also discuss modification of activities to help reduce pain and promote healing during your recovery process.