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ITB Friction Syndrome

Iliotibial band friction syndrome (ITBFS) is an overuse injury which commonly affects distance runners. It can also occur in cyclists and in team sports where athletes need to run long distances (eg. soccer or hockey). It is rare in sprinters or court sport players (eg. tennis and netball).

Key diagnostic features include pain occuring on the outside of the knee which is made worse with slow to medium speed straight line running (as opposed to sprinting or with constant change of direction). The pain usually worsens with increasing duration of the run and can be exacerbated by running downhill.

Activity and equipment modification usually relieves the pain of ITB friction syndrome. For example, if a basketball player experiences this while running to maintain fitness, then this part of the training regime should be removed. A cyclist's symptoms may be resolved by adjusting their seat height. During the rehabilitation period, a runner may be required to reduce their running distance and their proportion of downhill running. Other measures include the use of ice, topical anti-inflammatory gels and if necessary, injections. Gluteal strengthening exercises and balance exercises may also help. A surgical procedure known as the ITB release may be required as a last resort.
Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome Knee Anatomy
Surface drawing of where the iliotibial band sits in the knee.