IT Band Syndrome

Overview

What Is IT Band Syndrome?

Your iliotibial (IT) band is a cord of connective tissue – also known as a ligament – that runs from the hip, past the knee to the top of your shin. The IT band keeps your knee stable as you bend your leg.

IT band syndrome happens when the ligament becomes inflamed and swollen. This injury is common in people who do a lot of running.

Our sports medicine experts help you get an accurate diagnosis so you can get the best treatment right from the start. We offer a complete range of IT band syndrome treatments, including physical therapy and special footwear (custom foot orthotics).

The Aurora Difference

Expert Care for IT Band Syndrome

The symptoms of IT band syndrome can make it difficult to go about your daily life. At Aurora Health Care, you don’t have to wait to feel better. Our sports medicine doctors take same-day appointments throughout the week so you can get sports health care fast.

Other highlights of our program include:

  • The trust of local athletes: Aurora is the official sports medicine partner to local sports teams, including Marquette University athletic programs. This partnership means our doctors, physical therapists and athletic trainers are experienced at treating sports-related injuries like IT band syndrome. We pride ourselves on delivering the same expert level of care to all the people we serve. Read more about team medical coverage.
  • Expertise in nonsurgical care: Our team includes primary care sports medicine doctors. These sports medicine experts specialize in helping active people overcome IT band syndrome and other injuries with nonsurgical treatments. Meet our primary care sports medicine doctors.
  • Treatment and prevention all in one program: Getting you back into the swing of everyday life is just one way our experts can help you. We also offer sports performance programs to increase strength and prevent IT band syndrome symptoms from coming back. Learn more about our sports health services and treatments.

Symptoms

Symptoms of IT Band Syndrome

The most common symptoms of IT band syndrome include swelling and pain on the outside of the knee.

You may also experience:

  • Pain that increases with activity or lingers long after you stop
  • An uncomfortable popping sensation along the outside of the knee (also known as crepitus, or joint popping).
  • Severe pain when bending your knee that makes it difficult to walk

Diagnosis

IT Band Syndrome: Tests & Imaging

One way to determine whether the condition is IT band syndrome or some other knee problem is by bending your knee at a 45-degree angle. If you feel the pain on the outside of your knee, you likely have IT band syndrome.

Our sports medicine experts leave nothing to chance, though. They will perform a complete evaluation to confirm the diagnosis.

During an exam, we:

  • Listen carefully as you describe the symptoms you’re experiencing.
  • Move your knee and gently press the surrounding tissue to check for signs of tightness and inflammation.
  • Order imaging tests when necessary. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can help us rule out other problems, like a meniscus tear.

Find out more about what orthopedic diagnosis involves at Aurora.

Treatment

Treating IT Band Syndrome

We offer a broad range of treatments to help you make a full recovery and avoid re-injury. Our experts will explain which options are best for your unique circumstances, and together, you’ll make a plan to help you get back to your favorite activities.

Your IT band syndrome treatment may include:

  • Massage: Our licensed massage therapists use a variety of techniques, including deep tissue massage. This technique releases tension deep within the IT band and surrounding muscles. Find out more about massage therapy.
  • Physical therapy: We help you stretch and strengthen tight muscle tissue near your IT band with special exercises. Find out more about orthopedic physical therapy.
  • Running assessment: We examine the way your body moves while you’re running on a treadmill. Our running experts pinpoint and correct motions that are putting stress on your IT band. Find out more about a performance running assessment.
  • Special footwear: Inserting a device in your shoe (an orthotic) prevents your foot from turning inward and reduces stress on your IT band. At Aurora, a custom foot orthotic can be made to fit the unique shape of your foot. Find out more about custom foot orthotics.
  • Injections: When other treatments aren’t successful, we relieve inflammation by injecting medication or jelly-like substances, like corticosteroids, into the IT band. Injections may help you avoid surgery. Learn more about injections, including injections for joint pain.
  • Surgery: In rare cases, surgery is necessary to treat IT band syndrome. Our surgeons use sophisticated tools and the smallest necessary incision so you can recover quickly. Learn more about minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery.

Find a Sports Health Specialist

Use our search tool to find the specialist that’s right for you.

Get a Free Injury Evaluation

We get to the source of the pain and offer personalized care recommendations.

Find Sports Health Care Near You

We offer sports injury care throughout eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

Your Life Your Health

myAurora makes it easy to manage your care online, anytime.