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How to Treat IT Band Syndrome

by Patty Weasler, RN October 12, 2020 0 Comments

it band ice pack

The best IT band syndrome treatment options will be based upon your specific needs and the severity of your injury. Iliotibial (IT) band syndrome is a common overuse injury among runners and cyclists. It’s typically caused by overly tight ligaments and a combination of other factors like weak hip muscles or poor running form. Conservative treatment can start at home with options like rest and stretching. If your injury is more severe than medical treatment may be necessary.

Home Remedies

Knee and hip pain from iliotibial band friction syndrome can interfere with almost every physical activity. Since ITB is an overuse condition, rest is one of the at-home treatments that everyone should start with. Check out more home remedies below to get your knee back to tip-top shape.

  • Massage

    Massage for IT band pain will work on tight muscles to release tension and soothe soreness. A massage therapist would focus their efforts on tight hip muscles, leg muscles, and even your lower back. They will work out any muscle knots or trigger points to help get you to move pain-free.

    Check out this article to learn more about IT band massage.

  • Foam Rolling

    This small workout accessory has been used by athletes for a long time and has now become a mainstream treatment option for just about everyone. The foam roller works like a deep tissue massage, pressing deep into your muscles to work out the tension. However, there is definitely a right and wrong way to foam roll. Learn more in our guide, foam rolling your IT band.

  • Medication

    When you are suffering from IT band pain home treatment with an over-the-counter medication can be a great option. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen reduce swelling and pain. The anti-inflammatory properties of these medications are what makes them so effective. Before you start taking a new medication, always talk to your doctor or pharmacist to avoid any side effects.

  • Ice

    Lateral knee pain from IT band syndrome can be treated at home with ice. The cold will minimize swelling by reducing blood flow to the area which limits the amount of fluid that can get pushed out into the tissues. Ice also brings pain relief by numbing the skin and interrupting the pain signal. You can use an ice pack or even try submerging your knee in an ice bath. Just be sure to limit your icing time to 20 minutes to avoid damage to your skin.

Medical Treatment

Sometimes IT band syndrome needs more than home remedies to fully treat the injury. When that happens it’s time to turn to your doctor and physical therapist for their medical advice. Take a look below to learn how their help can get you recovered faster.

  • Physical Therapy

    A physical therapist is an expert on injuries like IT band syndrome. When you first visit your physical therapist they will perform a physical exam of your injury, then they will come up with a specialized treatment plan. Their treatments typically involve targeted exercises and stretches. If you have additional risk factors like poor running form or weak hip muscles they will work on correcting your biomechanics and weaknesses as well.

  • Ultrasound

    Ultrasound is used to warm up the muscles, break up scar tissue, and increase the blood flow to the area. Together, these items can improve healing time. You can have ultrasound treatment done in your physical therapist or doctor’s office. There is no downtime after a treatment and it has little side effects.

  • Corticosteroids

    Corticosteroid injections use a powerful steroid medication that is injected directly into the site of the injury. These treatments can reduce swelling and pain, providing excellent relief to some patients. However, steroid injections aren’t meant for everyone and cannot be used forever. Talk to your doctor and between the two of you, decide if this treatment is right for you.

  • Surgery

    If you have exhausted all other treatment options then your doctor may recommend IT band release surgery. This procedure involves a small incision around the kneecap and removal of an area of the IT band that is rubbing against the thighbone. Full recovery from this outpatient surgery can take 4 to 6 weeks.

Prevention

Prevention is always the best medicine. To keep your knee joint pain free and avoid ITB syndrome check out our tips below.

  • Warm-up before exercise
  • Wear orthotics
  • Perform strengthening exercises
  • Stretch regularly
  • Take exercise breaks, especially when in pain
  • Correct any gait abnormalities
  • Wear quality running shoes

Finding Safe IT Band Syndrome Treatment Options

IT band syndrome is a painful condition that causes pain on the outside of the knee. It is more common in runners and athletes who frequently bend their knees. Treatment for this condition can start at home with rest, ice, medication, stretching, and exercise. If your injury is too severe then you will need medical intervention from a sports medicine doctor or physical therapist. Always remember to take care of your joints and refer to your doctor for any questions on how to best treat your injury.

Sources:

https://www.sports-health.com/sports-injuries/leg-injuries/it-band-syndrome-treatment

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320757#treatments

https://www.physio-pedia.com/Iliotibial_Band_Syndrome

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Patty Weasler, RN
Patty Weasler, RN

Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.



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