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Sports Medicine & ShoulderSpecialist in Gilbert Arizona
Matthew L. Hansen, MD

Matthew L. Hansen, MD

Orthopedic surgeonBoard Certified in Orthopedic SurgeryBoard Certified in Sports Medicine

IT Band Release

The IT band or iliotibial band is a band of tissue that runs along the outside of the thigh bone from the hip towards the knee. It stabilizes the knee and hip and prevents dislocation of these joints. Whenever the knee is bent or the hip is flexed, this band rubs against a bony outgrowth of the thigh bone. Overuse of this tissue, as seen in activities requiring repetitive knee flexion and extension, such as long distance running, cycling, volley ball, soccer, weight lifting, skiing and aerobics, leads to a condition called IT band syndrome.

Pain caused by IT band syndrome can be treated by a surgical procedure called IT band release. The surgery helps relieve pressure caused by the tissue band and helps regain mobility in the hip. IT band release has the advantages of low morbidity and quick recovery.

Indications

Conservative treatment provides good response in most cases of IT band syndrome. However, IT band release is indicated for athletes who experience insufficient relief with rest, medications (steroid injections) or stretching exercises as instructed by a physical therapist. The surgery can also be performed for

  • External snapping hip syndrome (snapping sound produced during certain hip movements caused by thickening of the iliotibial band)
  • Greater trochanteric pain syndrome (tension between the iliotibial band and a prominence of the thigh bone)

Procedure

The surgery is usually performed with minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery (a thin lighted camera is used to view the area of operation), under regional or general anesthesia. A small incision is made on the outer side of the affected area. A portion of the IT band that rubs against the bone is released. If the bursa (a small fluid-filled sac that allows friction-free movement of the band) becomes inflamed (bursitis), the surgeon will excise it, making more room between the greater trochanter (prominence of thigh bone) and the IT band. The incisions are then sutured. The entire procedure takes 30 to 45 minutes to perform and is carried out on an outpatient basis.

Post-operative care

Recovery following the procedure involves a period of rest. You may need to rely on crutches during this period. A gradual exercise regimen may be developed by a physical therapist. The exercises would keep your pain in control, and provide better muscle and joint alignment so that you can resume your sport or other activities.

AOSSM AAOS: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons® / American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons® ORS | Orthopaedic Research Society ARIZONA ORTHOPAEDIC SOCIETY OrthoArizona