Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) is the result of inflammation and irritation of the distal portion of the iliotibial tendon (see illustration) as it rubs against the bursa that lies underneath the tendon and lateral femoral condyle (outer part of the thigh bone at the knee), or less commonly, the greater tuberosity (outer part of the thigh bone at the hip). This overuse injury occurs with repetitive flexion (bending) and extension (straightening) of the knee. This could also occur because of a lack of flexibility of the ITB, which can result in an increase in tension on the ITB during activity. When experiencing these problems with your knee, it’s important to find ways not to keep it irritated.
Occasionally, the injuries start with a clear-cut onset, like stepping in a hole or falling on your knee. Usually though it feels like it comes out of nowhere. This means that you’ve been gradually creating the injury over a longer period of time like a few days or weeks. Something that you do during the day sets it off, but it’s commonly very hard to figure out was exactly is the aggravating activity. Nonetheless, you’ve overdone it. Try not to worry if you can’t figure out exactly why your knee got sore. That may not be necessary to determine in order to get better.
The more often you make your knee sore, the longer it will take to get better. The inflammation seldom builds up to a level where it keeps you in bed, so it’s tempting to keep up and about on it. This may keep it stirred up. Try to avoid all the activities that make it sore, i.e., sitting with your knee bent for a long time, walking a lot, going up and down stairs, or exercising. While it doesn’t cause more damage, it does keep the inflammation from going away. You may find it helpful to sit with your knee straight or get up and move around occasionally. Also, try stairs one step at a time using your uninjured leg. These knee injuries can be very stubborn before they get better. The sooner you stop aggravating it, the sooner you can get back to the activities you like. If you have given it enough time to rest and it still persists, it is time to make an appointment to have it properly assessed and suggestions on possible treatment and rehabilitation.