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Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for Iliotibial Band Syndrome

  • Author: John M Martinez, MD; Chief Editor: Stephen Kishner, MD, MHA  more...
 
Updated: Feb 11, 2016
 

Background

Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) is the result of inflammation and irritation of the distal portion of the iliotibial tendon as it rubs against the lateral femoral condyle, or less commonly, the greater tuberosity. This overuse injury occurs with repetitive flexion and extension of the knee. Inflammation and irritation of the iliotibial band (ITB) also may occur because of a lack of flexibility of the ITB, which can result in an increase in tension on the ITB during the stance phase of running. See the image below.

In this 27-year-old female marathon runner with an In this 27-year-old female marathon runner with anterolateral pain superior to the joint line, a coronal fast spin-echo T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging scan with fat suppression demonstrates edema between the iliotibial band and the lateral femoral condyle (arrow). The edema's location is consistent with a clinical diagnosis of iliotibial band syndrome.

Other causes or factors that are believed to predispose an athlete to ITBS include excessive internal tibial rotation, genu varum, and increased pronation of the foot.

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Pathophysiology

The iliotibial band (ITB) is a dense fibrous band of tissue that originates from the anterior superior iliac spine region and extends down the lateral portion of the thigh to the knee. The ITB has insertions on the lateral tibial condyle (ie, the Gerdy tubercle) and the distal portion of the femur. When the knee is extended, the ITB is anterior to the lateral femoral condyle. When the knee is flexed more than 30º, the ITB is posterior to the lateral femoral condyle.[1] See the images below.

Iliotibial band at the lateral femoral condyle, wi Iliotibial band at the lateral femoral condyle, with the posterior fibers denoted.
Iliotibial band noted prominently along the latera Iliotibial band noted prominently along the lateral thigh.
Lateral hip stabilizers. Lateral hip stabilizers.
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Epidemiology

Frequency

United States

Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) is most common in athletes who participate in long-distance running. Studies have indicated a 4.3-7.5% occurrence rate for ITBS in long-distance runners. ITBS is less common in shorter-distance or sprint-distance runners. The higher rate in long-distance runners is primarily because of the increased stance phase during longer-distance running. ITBS also has been reported in military recruits, cyclists, and tennis players. The frequency of ITBS is also increased in adolescents undergoing the rapid growth phase.[2, 3, 4, 5]

Mortality/Morbidity

No mortality has been associated with iliotibial band syndrome.

Race

No known association exists between race and iliotibial band syndrome.

Sex

Iliotibial band syndrome has been reported in men and women equally; however, women may be more susceptible to developing the syndrome because of anatomical differences of the thigh and knee, such as genu varum and increased internal tibial rotation. These anatomical differences result in weakness of the quadriceps muscle and an increased varus angle of the femur in relation to the knee.

Age

Iliotibial band syndrome usually is seen in individuals aged 15-50 years, an age range that generally includes active athletes.

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Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

John M Martinez, MD Staff Physician, Kaiser Permanente

John M Martinez, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Sports Medicine, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Coauthor(s)

Consuelo T Lorenzo, MD Medical Director, Senior Products, Central North Region, Humana, Inc

Consuelo T Lorenzo, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Michael T Andary, MD, MS Professor, Residency Program Director, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine

Michael T Andary, MD, MS is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine, American Medical Association, Association of Academic Physiatrists

Disclosure: Received honoraria from Allergan for speaking and teaching.

Chief Editor

Stephen Kishner, MD, MHA Professor of Clinical Medicine, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Residency Program Director, Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans

Stephen Kishner, MD, MHA is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Robert E Windsor, MD, FAAPMR, FAAEM, FAAPM President and Director, Georgia Pain Physicians, PC; Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Emory University School of Medicine

Robert E Windsor, MD, FAAPMR, FAAEM, FAAPM is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pain Medicine, American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, American College of Sports Medicine, American Medical Association, International Association for the Study of Pain, Texas Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Acknowledgements

Kenneth Honsik, MD Consulting Staff, Department of Primary Care Sports Medicine, Kaiser Permanente

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

References
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  2. Fredericson M, Weir A. Practical management of iliotibial band friction syndrome in runners. Clin J Sport Med. 2006 May. 16(3):261-8. [Medline].

  3. Fredericson M, Wolf C. Iliotibial band syndrome in runners: innovations in treatment. Sports Med. 2005. 35(5):451-9. [Medline].

  4. Hamill J, Miller R, Noehren B, Davis I. A prospective study of iliotibial band strain in runners. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2008 Oct. 23(8):1018-25. [Medline].

  5. Grau S, Maiwald C, Krauss I, Axmann D, Horstmann T. The influence of matching populations on kinematic and kinetic variables in runners with iliotibial band syndrome. Res Q Exerc Sport. 2008 Dec. 79(4):450-7. [Medline].

  6. Khaund R, Flynn SH. Iliotibial band syndrome: a common source of knee pain. Am Fam Physician. 2005 Apr 15. 71(8):1545-50. [Medline]. [Full Text].

  7. Strauss EJ, Kim S, Calcei JG, Park D. Iliotibial band syndrome: evaluation and management. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2011 Dec. 19(12):728-36. [Medline].

  8. Sher I, Umans H, Downie SA, Tobin K, Arora R, Olson TR. Proximal iliotibial band syndrome: what is it and where is it?. Skeletal Radiol. 2011 Dec. 40(12):1553-6. [Medline].

  9. Grau S, Krauss I, Maiwald C, et al. Hip abductor weakness is not the cause for iliotibial band syndrome. Int J Sports Med. 2008 Jul. 29(7):579-83. [Medline].

  10. Phinyomark A, Osis S, Hettinga BA, Leigh R, Ferber R. Gender differences in gait kinematics in runners with iliotibial band syndrome. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2015 Dec. 25 (6):744-53. [Medline].

  11. Ilizaliturri VM Jr, Martinez-Escalante FA, Chaidez PA, et al. Endoscopic iliotibial band release for external snapping hip syndrome. Arthroscopy. 2006 May. 22(5):505-10. [Medline].

  12. Hariri S, Savidge ET, Reinold MM, Zachazewski J, Gill TJ. Treatment of recalcitrant iliotibial band friction syndrome with open iliotibial band bursectomy: indications, technique, and clinical outcomes. Am J Sports Med. 2009 Mar 13. [Medline].

  13. Michels F, Jambou S, Allard M, Bousquet V, Colombet P, de Lavigne C. An arthroscopic technique to treat the iliotibial band syndrome. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2009 Mar. 17(3):233-6. [Medline].

  14. Noehren B, Schmitz A, Hempel R, et al. Assessment of strength, flexibility, and running mechanics in men with iliotibial band syndrome. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2014 Mar. 44(3):217-22. [Medline].

  15. Weckstrom K, Soderstrom J. Radial extracorporeal shockwave therapy compared with manual therapy in runners with iliotibial band syndrome. J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2015 Jul 6. [Medline].

  16. Adams WB. Treatment options in overuse injuries of the knee: patellofemoral syndrome, iliotibial band syndrome, and degenerative meniscal tears. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2004 Oct. 3(5):256-60. [Medline].

 
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In this 27-year-old female marathon runner with anterolateral pain superior to the joint line, a coronal fast spin-echo T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging scan with fat suppression demonstrates edema between the iliotibial band and the lateral femoral condyle (arrow). The edema's location is consistent with a clinical diagnosis of iliotibial band syndrome.
Iliotibial band at the lateral femoral condyle, with the posterior fibers denoted.
Iliotibial band noted prominently along the lateral thigh.
Lateral hip stabilizers.
The Thomas test can be used to evaluate restriction in the iliotibial band and hip flexors.
The Ober test.
This illustration demonstrates active stretching of the iliotibial band (ITB). The athlete stands a comfortable distance from a wall and, with the contralateral knee extended, leans the proximal shoulder against the wall to stretch the ipsilateral ITB.
This illustration demonstrates iliotibial band syndrome stretching performed in a side-lying position.
 
 
 
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