Q: I am 60 years old and like to bike and walk for exercise. For the last three months, I have had pain on the outside of my left hip. At first, it hurt after I walked or biked. Now, it hurts every day and is worse when I lay on my left hip at night. I tried taking ibuprofen and it did not help much. I also tried not walking or running and the pain has stayed. I am worried and want to know what you think.
A: There is a muscle that begins on the outside part of your pelvis and runs down the outside part of your thigh and attaches on the outside part of your knee. This muscle is known as the Iliotibial band or “ITB.”
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In people who walk, run or cycle, it is common for the ITB to become too tight, which may result in pain on the outside part of the hip or knee, known as ITB syndrome.
Treatment usually involves physical therapy aimed at decreasing pain and improving flexibility. If this fails, a cortisone injection to the affected area may help. In some cases, ITB syndrome may be associated with hip conditions such as arthritis, a cartilage tear or a stress fracture.
I recommend you see an orthopedic surgeon for an exam and X-rays to establish the correct diagnosis and begin treatment. The vast majority of patients with ITB syndrome get better non-surgically. Runners, walkers and cyclists should learn a warm-up and stretching program in an effort to prevent overuse injuries such as ITB syndrome.