The iliotibial band is a band of fibers attached to the pelvis and running on the lateral or outerside part of the thigh until it attaches into the tibia (shinbone). The gluteal (buttock) muscles and the tensor fascia latae muscle attach to it. This band acts to coordinate muscle function and stabilize the knee during running.
During running and walking this band moves forward and backword over the lower part of the thigh bone (femur). A bursa in this area allows the band to glide smoothly over the bone.
In some athletes, specially long distance runners, inflammation of the iliotibial band occurs because of overuse and excessive friction of the band with the bone. This is more common if there is limited flexibility of the band.
There is pain over the lateral (outer) aspect of the knee joint specially while running. pain also occurs with flexion (bending) of the knee while going up and down stairs. The doctor can evaluate the flexibility of the band by clinical examination.
- proper footwear,
- adequate stretching after running (see image for stretching exercise),
- being aware of training mistakes, especially running the same direction on a track or on the same side of the road.
Patients are advised to rest and put ice over the site of pain. Antiinflammatory drugs also help reliefe the pain and inflammation. In some severe cases, a local injection of cortisone may be required to get rid of the inflammation.