Your IT band is a band of connective tissue that runs from the knee to the hip. It is not uncommon for the IT band to become irritated, tight, and sore if you over-exert yourself, perhaps by running a long race or taking a really demanding hike. Usually, if you rest and stretch the area, the condition will clear up. But if it does not, and your IT band remains tight and irritated for weeks or months on end, you could be said to have chronic IT band syndrome. In this case, you will generally want to see an orthopedist, which is a doctor who specializes in treating these sorts of injuries. Here are a few treatments the orthopedist may use to treat your chronic IT band syndrome.
If rest alone is not healing your IT band, then your orthopedist may suggest foam rolling. This is a treatment that involves positioning your body over a big, foam tube and rolling your leg back and forth over the roller. For IT band syndrome, your orthopedist may have you roll not only the IT band but also the muscles to either side of it. This can help loosen the muscles so they stop pulling on your IT band. It might take a few weeks of daily foam rolling for you to experience full relief. This is something you can do at home once your orthopedist shows you where and how to roll.
Glute Strengthening Exercises
One underlying cause of IT band syndrome is weak gluteal muscles. If you're a runner with IT band syndrome, it is quite likely that weak glutes are contributing to the problem. An orthopedist can show you some exercises to strengthen the gluteal muscles. This may not ease your IT band syndrome right away, but as your glutes grow stronger, they will allow you to lift your legs in a way that reduces strain on your IT band and allows the IT band syndrome to ease up over time.
If the pain in your IT band seems to be centered in a specific area, that part of the band might be torn or injured. A corticosteroid injection in that spot can help stimulate healing. The shot itself can be painful, but you should feel relief within hours as the steroids kick in and relieve inflammation. Sometimes, one injection is all you need to get you comfortable enough to work through some stretches and strength exercises that give longer-term relief from IT band syndrome. Other times, you may need a few injections, spaced a couple of months apart.
If you're struggling with chronic or stubborn IT band pain, don't keep living with it. Contact an orthopedic services provider for more information.