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Conditions & Treatment > Physiotherapy > Conditions > Iliotibial Band (ITB) Friction Syndrome

Iliotibial Band (ITB) Friction Syndrome

Often experienced by runners, the iliotibial band (ITB) friction syndrome occurs when there is repetitive friction against the ITB – the long, thin band of fibrous connective tissue that runs along the outside of the thigh and – the bony prominence (lateral epicondyle of the femur) on the outside of the knee, usually when the heel strikes the ground.

Causes

  • Usually attributed to altered biomechanics, sudden increase in training frequency or intensity, or a change in sporting surface.
  • Other causes include weakness in the hip abductors, flat feet, bow-leg, leg-length discrepancy or overly tight muscles around the hips and knees.

Common Signs and Symptoms

  • Pain on the outside of the knee. Usually increases with the activity even though there may be a pain-free start.
  • The pain may radiate down the leg, or up towards the hip. As the syndrome progresses, there may even be pain on walking.

How Physiotherapy Can Help

A physiotherapist will be able to:

  • Identify problematic areas such as muscular tightness and weakness contributing to altered running biomechanics.
  • Provide pain-relief and restore hip and knee functions through providing soft tissue releases, ultrasound therapy and taping for pain relief, and specific exercises and stretches.
  • Facilitate a graduated and pain-free return to sports within 6 weeks. The required recovery period will depend on the initial severity of the condition.

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