IT Band Syndrome (Hip Bursitis)

UPMC Content 2

What Is IT Band Syndrome?

The IT (iliotibial) band is a thick band of fibrous tissue that runs along the outside of your leg. It starts at the hip and extends to the outer side of the shinbone just below the knee joint.

The IT band works with the muscles in your thigh to provide stability to the outside of the knee joint.

IT band syndrome — also called hip bursitis or greater trochanteric bursitis — happens when the IT band becomes too tight. This can cause friction at the top of your hip or near your knee, resulting in inflammation.

IT band syndrome causes and risk factors

When you flex and extend your knee, the IT band rubs over the thighbone and causes inflammation. When the IT band is inflamed, it doesn't glide easily. This can be painful.

People at risk of IT band syndrome, or hip bursitis, are those who suddenly increase their activity level of activity, such as runners who increase their mileage.

Mechanical problems in your gait are also a main cause of IT band syndrome.

These include:

  • Over-pronation
  • Uneven leg length
  • Bow legs

IT band syndrome complications

IT band syndrome can cause pain or aching on the outer side of the knee.

Symptoms of IT band syndrome can occur in the middle or at the end of a run.

Make an appointment for IT band syndrome

To make an appointment or learn more about IT band syndrome, contact UPMC Sports Medicine at 1-855-93-SPORT (77678).

Learn more about IT band syndrome (hip bursitis)

The links below will open a new browser window.

UPMC's HealthBeat Blog:

From our Health Library:

IT Band Syndrome Symptoms and Diagnosis

IT band syndrome symptoms

IT band syndrome — or hip bursitis— often causes symptoms such as:

  • Pain or aching on the outer side of the knee.
  • A clicking or rubbing sensation on the side of your knee.
  • Pain that increases with activity.

IT band syndrome diagnosis

In most cases, doctors can diagnose IT band syndrome without any complex tests.

Because a number of conditions can cause pain on the outside of the knee, your doctor will:

  • Perform a physical exam and look at your entire leg.
  • Ask about any other past injuries.

Your doctor may also order x-rays to confirm an IT band syndrome diagnosis and make sure prior injuries aren't adding to the problem.

Make an appointment for IT band syndrome symptoms and diagnosis

To make an appointment or learn more about IT band syndrome, contact UPMC Sports Medicine at 1-855-93-SPORT (77678).

Learn more about IT band syndrome (hip bursitis) symptoms and tests

The links below will open a new browser window.

UPMC's HealthBeat Blog:

From our Health Library:

IT Band Syndrome Treatment

At UPMC Sports Medicine, doctors will create a treatment plan for IT band syndrome — or hip bursitis — aimed at:

  • Strengthening your outside leg muscles and gluteus medius (hip abductors).
  • Relieving inflammation.
  • Easing hip pain.

Nonsurgical IT band syndrome treatment

IT band syndrome treatments can include:

  • Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (R.I.C.E.).
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.
  • Injections.
  • Temporary reduction of training.
  • Orthotics to correct alignment.
  • Stretching the IT band.

IT band syndrome surgery

People with IT band syndrome rarely need surgery to correct their hip problems.

Surgery involves removing the bursa, and releasing or lengthening the IT band just enough to reduce the friction when you bend and straighten your knee.

IT band syndrome prevention tips

You may be able to prevent IT band syndrome, or help it from getting worse, with exercises and stretches.

Some tips to keep in mind:

  • Proper conditioning.
  • Gradual introduction of activity.
  • Warm-up and stretching prior to exercise.
  • Wearing appropriate shoes for activity.
  • Avoiding crowned surfaces or too much running around a track.
  • Shortening the running stride.

Make an appointment for IT band syndrome treatment

To make an appointment for IT band syndrome or hip bursitis treatment, contact UPMC Sports Medicine at 1-855-93-SPORT (77678).

Learn more about IT band syndrome (hip bursitis) treatment

The links below will open a new browser window.

UPMC's HealthBeat Blog:

From our Health Library: