ITB pain release and Acupuncture.

Pain down the side of the thigh is also known as ITB (band) syndrome. This condition can lead to discomfort, restricted movement, and even chronic pain. In this article, we'll explore the benefits of combining release techniques with acupuncture for effective pain management and improved mobility of ITB pain.

Understanding ITB Pain

The iliotibial band (ITB) is a thick band of connective tissue that runs along the outside of the thigh, connecting the hip to the knee. When it becomes tight or inflamed, it can lead to ITB pain and discomfort in the knee or hip area. This is a common issue among individuals who spend long hours seated or engaged in repetitive motions, which is often the case in desk workers.

ITB Release: What is it?

ITB release is a targeted approach to addressing ITB pain. Release can be done on your own as part of a regular stretching routine or applied by a practitioner like a Registered Acupuncturist. It involves the application of manual pressure or the use of specialised tools such as a foam roller, spiky ball or even acupuncture needles by your Acupuncturist to release tension in the ITB. 

Is there a difference between treating ITB pain with Acupuncture vs. Dry Needling?

Training and Credentialing:

  • Practitioners of both Acupuncture and Dry Needling (physios, osteos and chiros) should have many years of anatomy and physiology education.


  • Acupuncture is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practice that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body. This technique is known to stimulate the body's natural healing mechanisms, promoting recovery and alleviating pain. When combined with ITB release, acupuncture can enhance the overall healing process.
  • Acupuncturists undergo extensive (years of!) training in specific needling techniques, including painless insertion, standard precautions (needle safety) and point location.
  • This is included in their formal (4 years full-time) TCM training;  Chinese Herbal Medicine, cupping, gua sha, moxibustion, chinese dietary therapy and massage.
  • Acupuncturists may have University or private college level formal education over 4 years.
  • Acupuncturists are registered by centralised, government institutions such as AHPRA and recognised by industry associations.
  • Acupuncturists devote their whole training to refining their needle technique and may have up to 500 clinic hours of needling practice before they begin private practice and treat people. 

Dry Needling practitioners

  • Are physios, osteos or chiros and may have University or college level formal education.
  • Physios, Osteos and chiros are registered by government institutions such as AHPRA.
  • They receive training in needling techniques separate to their formal professional education. So, it's an elective of sorts, or selected for ongoing learning, once qualified. Alternatively, a lecturer who takes an interest in dry needling may teach these skills to students.
  • Training requirements and regulations for dry needling vary by jurisdiction.
  • Dry needling in Australia is taught as a weekend or short courses to develop skills, after starting private practice. 

In summary, while acupuncture and dry needling both use thin needles for therapeutic purposes, in cases of ITB pain, they differ in their techniques. It's important for individuals seeking these treatments to understand these differences and consult with properly qualified practitioners to determine the most appropriate approach for their specific health needs.

If ITB pain is only structural, an Acupuncturist or Dry Needling therapist could both provide pain relief. If something else is involved beyond just local tissue pathology, an Acupuncturist could try other strategies to release the side body. 

How ITB Release and Acupuncture Work Together

  1. Improved Blood Flow: Acupuncture helps enhance blood circulation, promoting the flow of nutrients and oxygen to the affected area. This complements the ITB release process, aiding in tissue repair and reducing inflammation.
  2. Targeted Pain Relief: Acupuncture targets specific meridian points associated with pain relief, complementing the localised effects of ITB release. This dual approach offers comprehensive pain management.
  3. Enhanced Mobility: By addressing the connective tissue, it aims to improve overall mobility and flexibility. Therefore, this is crucial for desk workers who are common candidates for ITB pain.
  4. Stress Reduction: A state of deep relaxation is known to be induced by Acupuncture. By reducing stress levels it eases tension of connective tissues.

For runners or sportspeople battling ITB pain, a holistic approach combining release techniques with acupuncture can offer significant relief. By targeting both the structural and functional aspects, this provides a comprehensive solution for better mobility. If you're struggling with ITB pain, consider a registered Acupuncturist (Aus) who can tailor a treatment plan to your unique needs.

If you're based on the Northern Beaches, you can contact me for treatment at my Brookvale or Terrey Hills clinics. I help clients between Avalon and Mona Vale, Narrabeen to Forestville, and Collaroy to Manly. You can make an appointment online here. I am a health fund provider and you may receive private health rebates. 


ITB Pain

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