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Iliotibial Band Lengthening

What is the Iliotibial Band?

The iliotibial band is a tough group of fibers that runs from the iliac crest of the hip along the outside of the thigh to the outer side of the shinbone, just below the knee joint. Its function is to coordinate with the thigh muscles and provide stability to the knee joint. 

What is Iliotibial Band Syndrome?

Iliotibial band syndrome is an overuse injury resulting from the inflammation of the iliotibial band. It occurs when the iliotibial band and the lower outside portion of the thighbone at the knee joint rub against each other. 

Causes of Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Iliotibial band syndrome commonly occurs in athletes, cyclists, and runners, and can occur from quickly increasing distances with running or biking activities. Other predisposing factors associated with the injury include running on uneven surfaces, wearing ill-fitting shoes, uneven leg length, muscle imbalance, overpronation of the foot, and bowed legs.

Symptoms of Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Iliotibial band syndrome may cause pain on the outer side of the knee, swelling at the site of the injury, and a popping sensation when the knee is bent and straightened. Pain may worsen after running, climbing stairs or walking, and is reduced when at rest.

What is Iliotibial Band Lengthening?

Iliotibial band lengthening is a procedure that lengthens the iliotibial band. The procedure is performed under general or regional anesthesia. The arthroscopic technique involves a small incision on the outer side of the affected area with a tiny camera inserted to guide the surgeon. A portion of the iliotibial band is then released. If the bursa is inflamed, it will be removed. A complete lengthening needs to be performed to minimize the risk of recurrence. Care is taken not to damage the overlying skin. The small incisions are then sutured, leaving minimal scarring.

Benefits of Iliotibial Band Lengthening

The benefits of iliotibial band lengthening include the following:

  • Pain relief
  • Return to sports activity
  • Restored leg function
  • Increase in lower limb muscle strength

Iliotibial band lengthening is often the last option to regain your previous functional ability and thus greatly enhances mental well-being and quality of life.