News & Media

IT Band Syndrome: DIY treatments vs. seeking medical attention

One of the most common culprits of hip and knee pain in active people is the IT band! Here you will find some information that may help you if you think you may have IT band syndrome:

  • What is the IT band?
    • IT band stands for Iliotibial band. This describes its anatomic position in the body. It starts at the Iliac crest (the top of the pelvic bone; your waist sits just above this bone) and stretches down the outside of the thigh to the tibia (shin bone).
  • How do I know if I might have IT band syndrome?
    • Some people will have pain on the outside portion of their knee and some people will have pain on the outside portion of their hip.It can feel like a rubbing sensation or like a deep bone bruise.
  • Are there things I can do to treat it on my own?
    • Yes! You can start with strengthening your glute (butt) muscles. These muscles are the main muscles responsible for stabilizing your pelvis when you run. When your pelvis is stable (meaning that the hips are level with each other, not shifting up and down) it takes off a lot of tension and rubbing on the IT band. Secondly, it can be very beneficial to stretch out the IT band. This can be done by simply pulling your bent knee towards your opposite shoulder or through the use of a foam roller which mimics a deep tissue release of the IT band.
  • Is it ok that I keep running or participating in my sport with IT band syndrome?
    • For the most part, yes. If you are able to run without limping or throwing off your gait, it is ok to continue with your activity. It might be beneficial to decrease mileage, hill running or speed (tempo) running until the pain subsides.
  • When should I seek medical attention?
    • If you notice swelling in the knee joint, instability in the knee joint (as if it might buckle, or give out on you), if you are unable to put weight on the knee or if the pain is causing you to limp or change your gait; you should be evaluated by a doctor to make sure that it is not something more serious. If it is determined that it is, in fact, IT band syndrome, your doctor may send you to get one-on-one attention with a physical therapist or athletic trainer.

Courtney Erickson-Adams, M.D. is a specially trained, board-certified sports medicine physician providing non-operative treatment options for sports-related and active lifestyle injuries including:

  • Advanced management of concussions
  • Fracture management
  • Ultrasound guided joint injections for shoulder, knee, hip, elbow, wrist and hand
  • Over-use and misuse conditions
  • 3D Gait Analysis for active runners and walkers

Dr. Erickson-Adams has worked as a team physician, providing sideline and game coverage for high school, collegiate and semi-professional sports including: football, basketball, soccer, baseball, hockey, volleyball and gymnastics.