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What Is Bursitis of the Hip?

Bursitis of the hip is an inflammatory condition that affects the bursae in the hip joint. These small, gel-filled sacs are positioned between bone and soft tissue, serving as cushions that help reduce friction during movement. Bursitis can develop due to repetitive stress, trauma, rheumatoid arthritis, bone spurs or a leg-length inequality.

Two bursae in the hip joint are especially prone to irritation and inflammation: the greater trochanter, which covers the bony point of the hip bone, and the iliopsoas bursa, which is located on the groin side of the hip. In most cases, bursitis affects the greater trochanter.

What does bursitis of the hip feel like?

The most common symptom of trochanteric bursitis is pain that extends from the point of the hip through the outside of the thigh. Usually, the pain is sharp and intense at first, then gradually progresses to a dull ache that spreads across a larger area of the hip. Some people find that their discomfort worsens:

  • At night
  • When walking, climbing stairs, squatting or standing up from a seated position
  • When lying on the affected hip

How is bursitis of the hip treated?

A proper diagnosis is an essential because tendonopathy and tears in the gluteus medius (muscle of the hip) can cause lateral hip pain and other symptoms similar to those produced by trochanteric bursitis. Many people with hip bursitis are able to find sufficient relief by making some simple lifestyle changes, using assistive devices such as a cane or crutches and taking over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as needed to reduce pain and inflammation. Exercise can also be beneficial for increasing hip strength and flexibility. A physical therapist can recommend specific stretches and exercises as well as other nonsurgical treatments, such as therapeutic massage, hot/cold compresses and ultrasound therapy.

To address severe hip bursitis symptoms, a powerful corticosteroid medication can be injected directly into an inflamed bursa. This treatment, which can be performed in a physician’s office, can provide lasting (but temporary) relief. If the pain and inflammation return, another injection or two may be administered a few months apart.

While bursitis of the hip can usually be addressed conservatively, surgery may be recommended to address persistent pain and inflammation by removing the affected bursa. In most cases, this procedure will not adversely affect the function of the hip.

With a team of fellowship-trained medical professionals who specialize in hip pain treatment, Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine of Houston, Texas, has the expertise necessary to diagnose and treat bursitis of the hip and many other musculoskeletal conditions. To learn more, contact us today.