IT band problems typically cause sharp knee pain that is concentrated in one location at the outside of the knee. The pain may be mild at first and become more noticeable over time.

Sharp pain. People with IT band syndrome typically experience sharp pain at the outside of the knee joint, either at or just below the rounded end of the thighbone, called the lateral femoral epicondyle, or just femoral condyle.

Pain when the knee is bent 30 degrees. IT band syndrome pain is usually most noticeable when the knee is bent at about 30 degrees—this is when experts theorize the IT band passes over the femoral condyle.

Tightness and loss of flexibility. The outside of the thigh feels tight and hip and knee may be less flexible.


Tenderness. The outside of the knee is tender and pressing against it may cause pain.

Pain when running. IT band syndrome is the second most common injury for runners. 1 Taunton JE, Ryan MB, Clement DB, McKenzie DC, Lloyd-Smith DR, Zumbo BD. A retrospective case-control analysis of 2002 running injuries. Br J Sports Med. 2002 Apr;36(2):95-101. PubMed PMID: 11916889; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC1724490.

  • Running on a decline can be especially irritating for runners.
  • A runner typically feels a sharp pain when a foot hits the ground or right afterwards.

See Common Running Injuries: Knee Pain

Pain when cycling. Cyclists will typically feel pain come and go during downward pedal stroke and again during the upward pedal stroke, when the knee is bent at 30 degrees.


People with mild IT band syndrome may only feel knee pain at the middle or end of a workout. For example, a jogger may notice pain begins a few miles into a run and gets gradually worse until he or she stops running. As the condition progresses, a person may feel pain while simply walking or going down a set of stairs.

Dr. Christian Foglar is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and trauma and reconstructive surgery. He practices at Advanced Orthopaedics in San Jose, CA, and is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves.