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IT Band Syndrome – Knee Pain Relief

What is IT Band Syndrome?

Your iliotibial (IT) band is a tendon on the outside of your upper leg that connects your knee to your hip. IT band syndrome (ITBS) is a painful overuse condition that results when this tendon becomes inflamed. IT band syndrome commonly presents itself as a painful, tight sensation on the outside of your leg and progresses as a very sharp pain on the outside of your knee. This injury is very common in runners, cyclist and athletes who predominantly preform in the sagittal plane (straight forward) and is often made worse by running downhill. This annoying and painful injury can quickly become debilitating if not addressed and corrected.

patient complaining of knee pain

What Causes IT Band Syndrome?

IT band syndrome can be caused by many thing. In runners, running downhill and always running on the same side of the road are common culprits. Both put a lot of stress on the side of the knee and cause friction between the IT band and the femur. Over time, the IT band tightens and may swell, pain emerges, and the pain eventually intensifies to the point where it keeps runners from running. The syndrome may be the result of a combination of issues, including poor training habits, poor flexibility of muscle, and other musculoskeletal imbalances in the body, especially involving the low back, pelvis, hips, and knees.

Why Foam Rolling is Not Helping

Contrary to popular belief and utilization, foam rolling is ineffective at treating IT band syndrome. A lot of times the issue is the glute med. The muscle either isn’t firing correctly or isn’t firing at all. The human body is an incredible machine and will adapt to just about any demand placed on it. When one of your primary movers is too weak to perform the movement on it’s own, some of the stabilizers muscles will kick in to help. While this isn’t such a big deal if it happens once or twice as a result of absolute fatigue of the prime mover, when your body becomes neurologically programmed to always initiate movement with the smaller muscles, then you’re setting yourself up for an injury. When the glute med is weak, it can’t do much to stabilize your knee so the TFL kicks in. Your TFL is not as large or powerful as the glute med, so when it tries to stabilize the knee it is it can’t stabilize your knee nearly as well. It is, however, attached to this big thick piece of tissue (your IT band) that it can tighten up to help stabilize the knee statically. As a result of this compensation an enormous and unnatural stress is placed on the IT band, which leads to tightness, inflammation, pain, and (frequently) foam rolling. The problem then is that we are attempting to treat an over-stretched, inflamed tissue by further stretching and beating the heck out of it.

Treatment for IT Band Syndrome

Some of the most common treatments for IT band syndrome involve massage, foam rolling, ice, anti-inflammatories. These treatments are not the best and chances are if you are reading this you have tried one or all of these with little to no effect. At Behm Muscle & Joint Clinic, we are full body Active Release Technique providers. ART is the gold standard in soft tissue treatments and is a movement-based treatment for soft-tissue injuries that helps to break up scar tissue and restore normal function. This therapy combined with rehabilitation techniques to stabilize the hip have helped others suffering with IT band syndrome. Other services that are utilized at Behm Muscle & Joint Clinic include:

  • Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM)

  • Chiropractic Adjustments / Joint Mobilizations

  • Dry Needling

  • Rock Tape / Kinesio Tape

  • Rehabilitation / Physical Therapy

Active Release Technique (ART) to the IT Band / Quad
chiropractor using ART on the IT Band/Quad

New Patients are always welcome at Behm Muscle & Joint Clinic. Our Bellevue, Nebraska Chiropractic and Rehabilitation clinic provides the most up to date and evidence-based modality to treat your muscle, nerve and joint pain. If you are suffering from IT band pain do not hesitate to give us a call or schedule a consultation online.

Content written by Dr. Adam Behm, DC, CCSP®

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