What is Iliotibial Band Syndrome?

Iliotibial Band (ITB) Syndrome is a prevalent overuse injury affecting the lateral (outside) aspect of the knee, commonly encountered among runners and athletes engaged in activities involving repetitive knee flexion and extension. This syndrome stems from the repetitive friction and rubbing of the iliotibial band—a thick band of connective tissue that runs along the outer thigh—against the lateral aspect of the knee joint during movement. As a result of this friction, irritation, damage, and inflammation may ensue, leading to the characteristic symptoms associated with ITB syndrome.

The development of ITB syndrome is closely linked to biomechanical factors and repetitive movements that predispose individuals to increased friction between the iliotibial band and the lateral knee structures. During activities such as running or jogging, the knee undergoes repetitive flexion and extension, causing the iliotibial band to repeatedly cross over the lateral epicondyle of the femur. When the knee is in a slightly flexed position, as commonly occurs during the stance phase of running, the likelihood of the iliotibial band rubbing against the outer part of the knee increases, exacerbating friction and irritation.

ITB syndrome typically presents with sharp or stabbing pain localised to the lateral aspect of the knee, often described as a “stinging” or “burning” sensation. This pain may initially present during activities such as running or jogging, particularly during downhill running or when the knee is in a slightly flexed position. Over time, if left untreated, the pain may worsen and become more persistent, gradually increasing in intensity over days to weeks. Additionally, individuals with ITB syndrome may experience swelling and tenderness over the lateral knee area, particularly along the path of the iliotibial band.

In summary, ITB syndrome is a common overuse injury characterised by lateral knee pain resulting from friction and irritation of the iliotibial band against the lateral knee structures. Early recognition and appropriate management, including targeted rehabilitation exercises and biomechanical corrections, are essential for optimising outcomes and facilitating the return to pain-free activity.

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