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Hip Bursitis: What You Need to Know About This Disease

Man with hip pain

Story at-a-glance -

  • Hip bursitis, also known as trochanteric bursitis, is a common type of hip pain that you can develop
  • There are many known causes of hip bursitis, ranging from miniscule to severe

Hip bursitis, also known as trochanteric bursitis, is a common type of hip pain that you can develop. The bursa involved is located on the outside of the hip, where the hip bone meets the thigh bone. It's also nicknamed the "great mimicker" because the pain it creates can be confused with other conditions such as hip osteoarthritis.1

In addition, there's a subtype of hip bursitis called iliopsoas bursitis. This refers to the inflammation in the iliopsoas bursa, which is located under the iliopsoas muscles at the front of the hip.2 The iliopsoas muscles is an important muscle, as it influences the movement of all sorts of leg-related activities, from walking to running.3

The Numerous Causes of Hip Bursitis

There are many known causes of hip bursitis, ranging from the miniscule to severe. Among them include:4

  • Constant pressure — Repetitive pressure on the hip, even in small amounts, can cause the bursa to become inflamed over time. Activities related to this condition include using bicycles for a long time or partaking in running marathons.
  • Injury — Actions such as falling on hard surfaces on your hips can cause the bursa to fill with blood and become inflamed. This is known as traumatic bursitis.
  • Age and gender — People in their middle or senior years have a higher risk of developing hip bursitis. In addition, women are more likely to have it than men.
  • Previous surgery — A previous surgical procedure done on your hip can increase your chances of developing bursitis.
  • Bacterial infection — Bacteria can enter your bloodstream and infect your hip bursa if there is an open wound on your skin. When this happens, you get a condition known as septic bursitis, which is a potentially fatal condition if not treated right away.

Sometimes, hip bursitis can result from preexisting medical conditions, such as:

  • Weak hip muscles
  • Scoliosis, or spinal curvature
  • Unequal leg length
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

The Symptoms of Hip Bursitis

The first indicator of hip bursitis is pain and swelling on the affected side of the hip. You may also feel pain on the outer area of your thigh.5

The pain worsens when you try walking, due to the pressure put on the affected bursa. Activities such as walking up a flight of stairs, running or sitting with your legs crossed can exacerbate the pain. Should you feel any of these, you may want to schedule a visit to the doctor right away.6

Rest Is Essential in Treating Hip Bursitis

Once diagnosed with hip bursitis, your doctor will require you to rest to help the swelling subside naturally. This means that you should minimize any activities that may strain your hips to avoid injuring the hip bursa. If you need to go somewhere, you may need to use an assistive device, such as a walking cane to help relieve pressure from the injured side.7

However, if all treatment options have been exhausted and the hip bursa is still inflamed, surgery may be needed. Your doctor will remove the affected hip bursa to provide immediate relief from symptoms via a procedure called arthroscopic removal.8

In arthroscopic surgery, two small incisions will be made. The first incision is where the surgical instruments will go inside your hip to cut out the bursa, while the second incision is where a small camera is inserted to guide the tools. This is less invasive, less painful and quicker than traditional hip bursa removal methods.9

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Exercises to Help Provide Relief From Hip Bursitis

Before considering surgery, you should try several exercises that can help strengthen your hip muscles and treat your hip bursitis. The following are stretching and strengthening exercises provided by the Summit Medical Group, and they are simple enough to be done in the comfort of your own home. However, consult with a doctor first to verify which exercises you can do, as exercising without guidance may worsen your condition even further:10

Stretching Exercises

"Gluteal Stretch

1. Lie on your back with both knees bent.

2. Rest the ankle on your injured side over the knee of your other leg.

3. Grasp the thigh of the leg on the uninjured side and pull toward your chest. You will feel a stretch along the buttocks on the injured side and possibly along the outside of your hip.

4. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat three times.

Iliotibial Band Stretch, Standing

1. Cross your uninjured leg in front of the other leg and bend down and reach toward the inside of your back foot. Do not bend your knees.

2. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds.

3. Return to the starting position. Repeat three times.

Iliotibial Band Stretch, Side-Leaning

1. Stand sideways near a wall with your injured side closest to the wall. Place a hand on the wall for support.

2. Cross the leg farther from the wall over the other leg. Keep the foot closest to the wall flat on the floor. Lean your hips into the wall.

3. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat three times."

Strengthening Exercises

" Straight Leg Raise

1. Lie on your back with your legs straight out in front of you.

2. Bend the knee on your uninjured side and place the foot flat on the floor. Tighten the thigh muscle on your injured side and lift your leg about 8 inches off the floor.

3. Keep your leg straight and your thigh muscle tight.

4. Slowly lower your leg back down to the floor. Do two sets of 15.

Prone Hip Extension

1. Lie on your stomach with your legs straight out behind you. Fold your arms under your head and rest your head on your arms.

2. Draw your belly button in towards your spine and tighten your abdominal muscles. Tighten the buttocks and thigh muscles of the leg on your injured side and lift the leg off the floor about 8 inches.

3. Keep your leg straight. Hold for five seconds.

4. Then lower your leg and relax. Do two sets of 15.

Side Plank

1. Lie on your side with your legs, hips, and shoulders in a straight line.

2. Prop yourself up onto your forearm with your elbow directly under your shoulder.

3. Lift your hips off the floor and balance on your forearm and the outside of your foot. Try to hold this position for 15 seconds and then slowly lower your hip to the ground.

4. Switch sides and repeat. Work up to holding for one minute.

5. This exercise can be made easier by starting with your knees and hips flexed toward your chest."


Bursitis: An Introduction

What Is Bursitis?

Bursitis Types

Hip Bursitis

Elbow Bursitis

Knee Bursitis

Shoulder Bursitis

Heel Bursitis

Septic Bursitis

Bursitis Causes

Bursitis Symptoms

Bursitis Treatment

Bursitis Prevention

Bursitis Diet

Bursitis FAQ

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