A continuous pain that affects the lateral part of the knee, particularly during (or after) a run or a walk with a sustained pace: it could be iliotibial band syndrome (also known as the runner’s knee).

We talk about this topic with Dr. Stefano Respizzi, Director of the Department of Rehabilitation and Functional Recovery at Humanitas.

The iliotibial band is located in the iliotibial zone, which is the last stretch of the lata belt covering the superficial muscles of the thigh. Ileothiobial Stripe Syndrome is an inflammatory process in this area; it occurs in the case of mechanical friction that may be due to overloading in the presence of predisposing factors. Anatomical factors such as knee varus, tibia varus, or lower limb dysmetria play a role, which is compounded by overloading, playing sports on hard or uneven ground, or taking improper postures in running or walking.


Symptoms and diagnosis

People who suffer from this condition experience knee pain, particularly in the outer lateral area, when they flex or extend their joints, and a feeling of stiffness. The pain is such as to prevent the continuation of sport activity and tends to regress with rest.

In case of symptoms, consult a specialist. The diagnosis is usually clinical and assesses muscle flexibility and strength, lower limb anatomy, patient walking and pain localization through specific tests.

Instrumental examinations (ultrasound, radiography) may be useful where differential diagnosis with other similarly symptomatic diseases is necessary.


How is iliotibial band syndrome treated?

The approach is initially conservative and treatments such as cryotherapy, infiltration, laser therapy and shock waves may be indicated.

Moreover, exercises in stretching the lata band and iliotibial band and the adoption of personalized sports insoles to be inserted into the shoes during sports may also be useful. The insoles, in fact, absorb the stress to which the knee is subjected to and balance the posture, generally allowing a return to the practice of sport.


In some rare cases, surgical intervention is required.