Flawless Physio Logo
Knee Ligament Injury

Iliotibial Band Syndrome FAQs

Minute Read


Posted 1 year ago


Last updated: 29/11/2022


by James McCormack

Iliotibial band syndrome is a painful condition that is felt on the outside of the knee, learn more here: Iliotibial Band Syndrome.

What does band pain feel like?

Iliotibial band syndrome is a painful condition of the knee. It will feel sore, sharp or burning on the outside of the knee, and many people say that the thigh feel tight. Most pain is felt at the outside of the knee but for some it can be felt at the upper end of the IT band, on the outside of the hip.

Can you walk with IT band syndrome?

Most people with IT band syndrome can still walk with it, there may be mild pain or an ache. The time or distance that they can walk for may however be limited as walking for too long may aggravate symptoms. Generally, it is advised to reduce step count, especially important for those who walk a lot, or those who have particularly severe or irritable symptoms.

Read more about: What exercise can I do with Iliotibial Band Syndrome?

Does sitting aggravate IT band?

Sitting with crossed legs on the floor, or crossed legs on a chair can aggravate pain because it puts the leg in a position that tightens the IT band. It is best to keep legs uncrossed, and either bent to about 90º or fully straight, as these positions will reduce the tension of the IT band.

Read more about: How do you fix Iliotibial Band Syndrome?

Does IT band syndrome hurt all the time?

Depending on the duration and severity IT band syndrome can be intermittent pain or constant. In most cases, in the early or less severe stages, pain will be felt only at specific times when aggravating the pain. This can be when the knee is bent through 20-30º, such as when walking, running, and going up or down stairs. In more chronic cases, or those that have persisted for a long time, it can feel like there is a constant ache. There will still be worse pain in specific positions or with specific activities.

Does IT band syndrome show up on MRI?

On MRI imaging IT band syndrome will show up in most cases. An area of fluid and oedema will show around the lateral femoral condyle and the fat pad under the IT band. In choric cases thickening of the IT band over the lateral femoral chondyle might be seen also. If these findings are present on a scan it can confirm a clinical diagnosis of IT band syndrome.

Is heat good for IT band pain?

Heat is applied to injuries to increase blood circulation to a specific area and has the benefit of relaxing muscles. Therefore, for IT band pain, it can be beneficial to apply heat to the muscles around the hip or the quadriceps to help them relax. If the outside of the knee already feels hot, throbbing or burning, then it is not advised to apply additional heat. Caution: you can burn your skin with a heat pack and hot water bottles. Always have at least one layer of material between heat and skin, and consult a medical professional if you have impaired sensation.

Is it good to ice IT band?

Ice is applied to injuries to reduce temperature, pain and inflammation. If the outside of the knee feels hot, throbbing or burning then the application of ice will likely reduce these symptoms. Similarly, an ache or swelling on the outside of the knee may also be helped with the application of ice or a cold pack. Caution: you can burn your skin with ice. Always have at least one layer of material between ice and skin, and consult a medical professional if you have impaired sensation.

Is it OK to massage IT band?

Similar to foam rolling the IT band, massage on the band can be detrimental and aggravate pain. The structure of the band is unlikely to relax or loosen with these treatments. However, massage and foam rolling the surrounding muscles such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calf can be very helpful. This is related to the insertion of the IT band into these muscles. Learn what IT Band Exercises work best to fix IT band pain.

Photo of quadriceps massage for tendinopathy

Do muscle relaxers help with IT band pain?

IT band pain can be caused by tight muscles such as the tensor fascia lata, glutes and quadriceps. In severe cases, muscle relaxants such as Botox are used to treat the symptoms and facilitate recovery. Botox is injected into the muscle by a specialist doctor, usually under ultrasound guidance.

Can a tight IT band cause hip pain?

The IT band runs from the outside of our pelvis, over our hip and down the outside of our leg where it inserts into our shin bone. Therefore, a tight IT band will more commonly cause pain at the knee but can also cause hip pain.

Physiotherapy with James McCormack

This is not medical advice. We recommend a consultation with a medical professional such as James McCormack. He offers Online Physiotherapy Appointments for £45.

Share this page