Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) is a common knee injury caused by inflammation of the distal portion of the iliotibial band (IT Band).  The iliotibial band is a tough and strong fibrous band of tissue that runs along the outside of the thigh, attaching at the knee and is one of the main supports of the knee joint.  One of its key functions is to prevent over-flexion or over-extension of the knee. 

What is Iliotibial Band Syndrome?

Iliotibial band Syndrome is a condition that results when distal part of iliotibial band undergoes chronic and persistent injury as a result of contact with lateral (outside) condyle of femur (thigh bone) or, in some cases, greater tuberosity of the femur which leads to chronic inflammatory changes in the tendon of iliotibial muscle. This syndrome is more commonly reported in females because of genetic and gender factors such as genu varum (bow-leggedness) and the pattern of rotation of tibia that weaken the power and pull of quadriceps muscle.

Signs and Symptoms of Iliotibial Band Syndrome:

Iliotibial Band Syndrome is a common knee injury in athletes who run long distances whether playing or training for their sport.

The classic signs and symptoms of Iliotibial Band Syndrome include:

          pain along the lateral aspect of knee joint or, in some cases, at the hip joint or greater trochanter;

          aggravation of the pain with activities that involve both the knee and hip such as cycling or running;

          any motion that increases pressure on the heels increases the intensity of the pain, such as running down hills or descending stairs;

          occasional popping sound while running.

How does Iliotibial Band Syndrome develop?

The iliotibial band is subjected to excessive pressure during all activities involving the knee joint and hip joint. Overuse of this fibrous band during repetitive activities such as cycling or running leads to tissue damage, irritation and inflammation which, in turn, leads to a weakening of tendons and a limitation of activity due to pain and stiffness.

There appears to be a higher incidence of ITBS developing in individuals who have a longer stance phase while running, or in adolescents who undergo a rapid growth spurt.

Risk factors that increase the possibility of ITBS include:

          overuse injury as a result of repetitive and alternating flexion-extension movement of muscle at knee joint;

          lack of flexibility at the point of the tendon insertion into the knee which increases the stress and resistance on the tendon fibers resulting in ITBS;

          activities that involve excessive internal rotation of the tibia;

          genu varum;

          excessive pronation of the feet;

          sports activities such as long distance running, cycling; and tennis

          weak muscle groups that allow extra pressure and force on iliotibial band and tensor fascia lata.

At Ace Physio Downtown Toronto Physiotherapy our Registered Physiotherapists are able to effectively treat Iliotibial Band Syndrome. 

Common treatments for ITBS includes:

Shockwave Therapy

Gua Sha

Custom Orthotics

To Book An Appointment Call Us Today at 416-900-6653


  • Sharon Gabison

    Registered Physiotherapist BSc, BScPT, MSc, PhD: A graduate of the University of Toronto in Human Biology, Sharon completed her Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto. She went on to pursue further graduate work, completing her Master of Science from the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute and a PhD from the Institute of Medical Science both from the University of Toronto. Her interest in Physiotherapy originated while pursuing her first undergraduate degree while struggling with postural challenges and seeking physiotherapy treatment. Her interest in medicine, working with people, and developing and adhering to therapeutic plans inspired her to pursue a career in Physiotherapy. Her interest in research, orthopaedics, neurology, therapeutic agents and pressure injuries (bed sores) lead her to pursue graduate work. Sharon emphasizes a holistic approach to rehabilitation. Her experience of raising a son with a disability has continued to inform her career that has spanned over 25 years. She is able to appreciate the rehabilitation process not only from the professional perspective, but from the client perspective. Her extensive knowledge of biomechanics, orthopaedics, exercise prescription, electrophysical agents with a strong background in research enables her to provide evidence based treatment when designing and implementing rehabilitation plans. With a special interest in patient and family engagement through her volunteer work, Sharon is able to ensure that treatment that is provided takes into consideration the unique challenges that individuals may experience when adhering to treatment recommendations in their busy lives.

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