Iliotibial Band Syndrome: Care Instructions

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Overview

Iliotibial band syndrome is pain and swelling of the iliotibial band (also called the IT band). This is a band of tissue that runs down the outside of your thigh. It connects the side of your hip to the side of your knee. It helps keep your knee and hip stable and in their normal position.

When you have IT band syndrome, you may feel pain on the outside of your hip. It happens as your IT band snaps back and forth over the bony point of your hip. Sometimes you may only feel pain on the outside of your knee.

You can get this syndrome if the IT band is too tight or if you do certain activities over and over that put pressure on your hip or knee. This is a common problem in runners, cyclists, and people who do other aerobic activities.

IT band syndrome is treated with rest and medicines. These relieve swelling and pain. Physical therapy is also used. It may include stretching or doing certain exercises that can help strengthen your IT band and hip muscles. Sometimes a steroid shot is given to help relieve pain at the spot that is most sore.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Rest the affected leg. You may need to change or avoid activities that cause pain.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about exercises that will help ease hip and knee pain.
    • Stretch before you exercise. This can help prevent stiffness and injury. You can try gentle forms of yoga to help keep your joints and muscles flexible.
    • Use exercises that are less stressful on the joints. Walk instead of jog. Ride a stationary bike with little resistance. Or you can swim or try water exercise.
    • Do exercises that can help strengthen your IT band and hip muscles. Your doctor or physical therapist can tell you what kind of exercises are best for you. The doctor or physical therapist can help you learn the right way to do the exercises.
  • Stay at a healthy weight. Being overweight puts extra strain on your hip and knee joints.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You have pain in your hip or knee that doesn't go away.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.