Hip Bursitis

What is Hip Bursitis?

Bursitis is inflammation of a bursa. A bursa is a small jelly-like sac that acts as a cushion between the bone and the overlying soft tissues to reduce the friction in between. The bony point of the hip (greater trochanter) has a fairly large bursa that can become irritated.

There are two major bursae of the hip, trochanteric bursa and ischial bursa. The former is located on the outside of the hip.

Causes of hip bursitis include:

  • Bone spurs or calcium deposits, which can develop within the tendons attached to the trochanter (the bony outgrowth at the upper end of the thigh bone)
  • Hip injury due to falling onto the hip, bumping the hip on the edge of a piece of furniture or lying on one side of the body for a long time
  • Leg-length inequality, when one of the legs is shorter than the other by more than one inch
  • Repetitive stress (overuse) injury, which can occur during stair climbing, bicycling, running or after standing for a long time
  • Spine disease due to lumbar arthritis (in the lower spine) or scoliosis (curved spine)

Symptoms of bursitis include:

  • Pain:
    • When moving
    • When sleeping on the affected hip
    • When sitting on a hard surface for a long time
    • When getting up after sitting
    • That extends over the outside of the thigh and may radiate down the outside of the thigh
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness directly over the bursa

The symptoms may worsen with stair climbing, prolonged walking or squatting.

Treatment depends on the specific location of the bursa, but the aim is to rest the bursa, decrease inflammation and allow time for recovery. If the bursitis persists despite treatment, surgical excision of the bursa is possible.

There is a risk that an inflamed bursa can become infected, although infection is rare for hip bursitis as the inflammation is deep within the body. Patient with infected bursitis will need antibiotic treatment.

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