Knee pain that is generally felt on the outside (lateral) aspect of the knee or lower thigh often indicates Iliotibial (IT) Band Friction Syndrome.

Signs and Symptoms of IT Band Syndrome
The iliotibial (IT) band is a tough group of fibers that run along the outside of the thigh. It begins at the hip and extends to the outer side of the shin bone (tibia) just below the knee joint.

Iliotibial band syndrome is generally due to inflammation of this band. The IT band acts primarily as a stabilizer during running and may become irritated from overuse. The pain is typically felt on the outside (lateral) aspect of the knee or lower thigh, and is often more intense when descending stairs, or getting up from a seated position.

What Causes IT Band Syndrome?
It band friction syndrome is often the result of overuse, training errors or faulty biomechanics. It is most common in runners and may be linked to situations that cause unbalanced exercise. One such example is running only on one side of a crowned road. Most roads slope off to the sides and running along the edge causes to the outside foot to be lower than the inside foot. This in turn, causes the pelvis to tilt to one side and stresses the IT band.

The biomechanical abnormalities that may lead to IT band problems include: excessive pronation of the foot, leg length discrepancy, lateral pelvic tilt, and "bowed" legs. Muscle tightness or lack of flexibility in the gluteal or quadriceps muscles may exacerbate IT band injuries.

Many physical therapists use Video tape analysis to uncover such biomechanical problems.

Treatment of IT Band Pain
Treating IT band friction syndrome includes:

R.I.C.E. - Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation is the first line of treatment.
Physical Therapy. A therapist can use ultrasound and other modalities to help the injured tissues heal more quickly. A skilled PT can also help you correct any biomechanical or training errors, and teach you how to perform the right flexibility exercises.
Reduced Activity. Runners need to reduce running mileage and be alert to the signs of overtraining syndrome
Anti-inflammatory medications may also be used to reduce painful inflammation.
Rest and Recovery is an important part of your recovery and should be maintained as part of a balanced training program.
Prevention
Prevention of the IT band syndrome consists of the following:

Proper Strengthening Exercises
Strengthening the external hip rotators may also help reduce the risk of IT Band injuries. One simple exercise is performing sets of one-leg squats in front of a mirror. Make sure your pelvis does not drop on one side.
Proper Stretching Exercises
How To Stretch The IT Band
While standing, cross your left leg over your right leg. Lean your upper body to your left as you push your hips to you right. Keep your right foot anchored while allowing your left knee to flex. You should feel the stretch in the iliotibial muscle in your right hip and extending down the outside of your right leg. Repeat this stretch on the other side.
Select Proper Footwear
Orthotics or shoes inserts may also help for chronic IT band inflammation.
Know When to Replace Running Shoes
Avoid Overtraining which irritates the IT band.
Cross Train to provide a variety of exercises and reduce overuse injuries.
Rest and Recovery is an important part of any balanced training program.
Try Backwards Running to correct muscle imbalance and reduce pressure on the knees.
Run on a soft, level surface or alternate directions on the road.
IT Band Friction Syndrome doesn't have to be a chronic, debilitating problem. A little bit of prevention and careful diagnosis of the cause can lead to a complete and full recovery.