The iliotibial band is a band of fibrous tissue that runs down the outside of the thigh. It provides stability to the knee and hip and helps prevent dislocation of those joints. The band may overdevelop, tighten, and rub across the hipbone or the outer part of the knee. Each time the knee is bent or the hip flexed, the band rubs against bone. This is particularly common in runners, cyclists, and people who participate in other aerobic activities.
Symptoms of iliotibial band syndrome include:
- Pain on the outside of the knee or hip.
- Snapping hip pain as the iliotibial band snaps back and forth over the point of the hip (greater trochanter).
- Pain that generally disappears as the band is stretched out and becomes more flexible.
- Pain that improves with rest.
Iliotibial band syndrome is treated with rest, medicines to relieve swelling and pain, and stretching exercises as instructed by a physical therapist or sports medicine doctor. Steroid injections at the most tender spot are sometimes helpful.