IT band syndrome


My rheumatologist has told me that the osteoarthritis in my knees isn't that bad so couldn't explain why I was in so much pain, but has prescribed pain killers and an anti inflammatory. I'm 70 and it was only last year that I started with osteoarthritis and also inflammatory arthritis in my hands. However I've now been told I have IT band syndrome. I'm not a runner but was able to walk 4 or 5 miles before this all started. Is this common?. It is affecting both of my legs especially climbing stairs. I am finding it really debilitating. I know I can do exercises but do I need to stop climbing stairs as this just makes it flare up more?


  • jonr
    jonr Member Posts: 400

    Welcome to the Community Chrissie_52, I hope you'll find the folks here supportive and helpful - there are a lot of resources on the website and I would start by going here:

    Very sorry to hear you're in so much pain and I think the comments from your Rheumatologist aren't very helpful but it matters not what you've been told - you're the one with the pain!

    OK, so I am a runner (or used to be) and IT Band syndrome is something I've been suffering with alongside my OA for a couple of years now. How it was explained to me is that as the knee weakens, it's the tendons and connecting tissues which take the strain which might be why you've now developed this condition. But - what to do about it?

    1: Pain management. Good to hear you've been prescribed AI's and PK's, the link above includes a section on prescribed and over-the-counter natural remedies and other things. I use a deep tissue massaging gun on my tendons, you can buy these from Amazon, there's many to suit most budgets, really helps to soothe and maintain suppleness. I would also investigate gels and creams - I use Voltorol 12 hour gel, FlexiSeq and hemp cream on my knees. If you're in real extremetis then an ice pack or bag of peas wrapped in a tea towel and applied to your knees will help calm things down, reduce swelling and the heat.

    2: Physio and exercise. There is a section on the website about things to do at home but if your surgery has a physio function then make an appointment for an assessment, you ought to come away with a tailor-made range of exercises and stretches designed to strengthen the affected joints. They won't work overnight but they will make a difference in time. If you have pain under control you can get back to walking and that's fantastic for Arthritis but don't go too gung ho because ITBS is a stress condition and all the advice is to rest, whereas you want and need to be more active. I walk on the treadmill in my local gym a lot - it's sprung (so less impact on my knees) and you can vary the speed and gradient, so this might be a great way of easing yourself back in.

    Hope some of these are helpful, let us know how get on.


  • helpline_team

    Hi @Chrissie_52

    Thank you for posting on the Online Community. I am sorry to hear about the pain you are experiencing in your knees and legs due to osteoarthritis (OA) and IT band syndrome (iliotibial band syndrome). It sounds as if you have been going through a rough time and it is frustrating that you are now unable to manage longer walks like you used to, and stairs are becoming more difficult. Jon has given a helpful response to your post with useful links and suggestions

    A second stair rail may be worth considering and a stick for walking longer distances to help to take some of your weight and reduce pain and strain on your joints. It may help to go back to your GP to review your pain medication and explore other treatment options. As Jon has said, referral to a physiotherapist, or the musculoskeletal (MSK) service may be worth considering for an assessment and advice. It is important to balance activity with rest, and pace yourself so you don’t overdo it and aggravate your symptoms.  Eating a healthy balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight will also help to put less strain on your joints. An Occupational Therapy (OT) home assessment may be worth considering too.

    I hope the information given below will be of some help. 

    Best wishes,

    Fiona, Helpline Advisor 

  • Chrissie_52

    Thanks for your advice, I will try to do some of the exercises.