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Iliotibial band syndrome

The iliotibial band (ITB) is a think band of fascia (connective tissues) that runs along the outside portion of the thigh originating from the outside of the pelvis around the hip and it inserts to the lateral condyle of the tibia.

ITB syndrome is irritation caused at the insertion point on the outside of the knee and is one of the most common causes of knee pain. The ITB works with the ligaments of the knee to help stabilise the your knee joint. ITB syndrome happens when friction between the ITB tissue against the outside of the knee occurs. This then causes pain and inflammation.


The most common complaint of ITB syndrome is pain along the outside portion of the knee just above the joint line. Initially you may feel stiffness that will disappear after a few minutes of exercise. With time this may present with increasing pain levels each time you exercise as it gets worse.

Other symptoms often include:

  • Clicking or popping sensation on the outside of the knee
  • Tenderness, aching or burning sensation
  • Pain up and down the outside of the leg
  • Warmth or redness on the outside of the knee

Who can get it?

ITB syndrome is most often caused as a result of overuse particularly in sports such a cycling and running. Occasionally it has been known to present in those who participate in running sports such as basketball, rugby and football. Although there are certain factors that can contribute to the onset of ITB syndrome. Including having weak hip and/or knee muscles and tightness in the ITB from overuse.

There are certain things that will increase the chance that you develop this condition:

  • Wearing the incorrect footwear too often
  • Not doing correct warm up and cool down exercises
  • Not allowing enough rest time between training days
  • Pushing too hard for your level (too much too soon)
  • Running down hill or on uneven surfaces
  • Over pronation of the foot


There are some basic steps that can significantly reduce your pain and irritation in relation to the condition, although you should visit a physiotherapist so they can make an accurate diagnosis and assist you with correct footwear type as well as prescribe some exercises to help maintain correct strength in the areas needed.

Steps to ease pain and swelling around the painful area:

  • Try to limit activities which provoke your pain
  • Wrap an ice pack in a small towel and place it over the injured area for 15 minutes at a time several times a day
  • Take over the counter NSAID’s to help with the reduction of swelling

A physiotherapist will guide you in how to:

  • Warm up and cool down correctly
  • Choose correct footwear
  • How to adjust your training schedule to get the best results with low risk of injury
  • Use massage therapy to relieve tightness.
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