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Hip Bursitis

Hip Bursitis

What is Hip Bursitis?

Hip bursitis is a painful condition that occurs when a bursa in the hip becomes swollen and inflamed.

A bursa is a small sac that secretes a lubricating liquid called synovial fluid which reduces friction between tissues, acts as a cushion between the muscles, tendons, and bones, and helps lubricate the joints to move freely.

There are more than 150 bursae in the human body. There are two bursae in the hip, both of which can develop bursitis:

  • The trochanteric bursa covers the outside part of the hip bone called the greater trochanter.
  • The iliopsoas bursa on the inside of the hip near the groin is the largest bursa in the body. Iliopsoas bursitis and tendonitis are very closely related, as inflammation of the one usually results in inflammation of the other because they are located so close together. Together, it is called iliopsoas syndrome.

Causes | Symptoms | Treatment | Prevention

What Causes Hip Bursitis?

The most common cause of hip bursitis is long-term repetitive movements or positions (whether from your job or hobby) that put pressure on the hip joint.

Other risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing hip bursitis include:

  • Previous surgery or injury to the hip
  • Trauma to the hip, such as a hard fall
  • Inflammatory autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, lupus, and gout
  • Spine diseases such as scoliosis or low back arthritis
  • Bone spurs from osteoarthritis
  • Thyroid conditions
  • If one of your legs is longer than the other, it will affect the way you walk which can lead to irritation of the hip bursae
  • Age – anyone can develop bursitis, but it becomes more common with aging
  • Being overweight
  • Incorrect posture
  • Bacterial infection, called septic bursitis

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Hip Bursitis?

Hip bursitis causes swelling, tenderness and pain in areas around the hip joint, such as the groin, thighs, and upper quads.

Depending on the cause of your hip bursitis, signs and symptoms may include:

  • Pain radiating to the lower back, buttocks, leg or knee
  • Stiff, achy hip
  • Pain while lying on your side, making it difficult to sleep
  • Sharp shooting pain or pain that gets worse during certain movements like climbing stairs, getting in or out of a car or chair, or crossing your legs
  • A snapping sensation at the front of the hip
  • Redness and warmth with or without a fever and chills, if the cause of your hip bursitis is due to infection

Concerned about symptoms of hip bursitis? Book an assessment with a physiotherapist today.

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How is Hip Bursitis Treated?

Treatments for hip bursitis can include:

  • Applying ice, resting your hip, and avoiding activities
  • Physiotherapy
  • Medications, including:
    • Topical medications such as creams, sprays, gels or patches
    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), either prescribed, or over-the-counter, such as Advil, Motrin or Aleve
    • Antibiotics (if your hip bursitis is caused by an infection)
  • Draining a swollen bursa of excess fluid with a needle and syringe which can then be tested at a lab to determine if the bursa is infected
  • Corticosteroid injections to relieve pain and inflammation (only if the cause is not due to infection)
  • Surgery

Surgical removal of the bursa is very rare. If surgery is necessary after other less invasive treatments have not helped, physiotherapy is an important part of rehabilitation.

Physiotherapy for Hip Bursitis

Physiotherapy is a drug-free and non-surgical treatment that focuses on reducing pain and swelling, regaining strength, increasing joint mobility and function, and preventing recurrence. 

At pt Health, you’ll receive a thorough assessment which addresses the source of your problem.

Depending on your individual needs, physiotherapy for hip bursitis can include:

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Can Hip Bursitis Go Away on Its Own?

Depending on the cause, hip bursitis can get better on its own within a few weeks with at-home treatments in conjunction with modifying your daily habits, including:

  • Applying heat and cold therapy appropriately
  • Resting your hip between workouts and repetitive tasks (only resume these activities once pain and swelling are under control)
  • Minimizing actions that put stress on your hip, like climbing stairs or certain sports like rowing or cycling
  • Switching to lower impact activities, such as walking instead of running (once your hip bursitis is healed)
  • Using assistive devices such as crutches to relieve pressure on the hip

However, repeated flare-ups are common, so if the above measures don’t resolve your symptoms, you may want to consult a physiotherapist for a custom treatment plan to address your unique concerns.

Can You Prevent Hip Bursitis?

There are steps you can take to prevent or reduce the chance of developing hip bursitis, including:

  • Exercising regularly, including stretching exercises such as yoga or tai chi (at least 30 minutes every day); swimming is also an excellent physical activity for minimizing stress on the hip joint
  • Warming up before exercising or playing sports, and cooling down afterward
  • Eating an anti-inflammatory diet (avoiding processed and refined foods and sugar)
  • Maintaining a healthy weight (which reduces joint strain and pain, and increases mobility and energy)
  • Practicing good posture
  • Wearing orthotics, especially if you have leg length differences or an incorrect gait
  • Bending your knees when you lift so as to not put extra stress on the bursae in your hips

Book a Physiotherapy Consult for Hip Bursitis Today

Concerned about symptoms of hip bursitis? Book an assessment with a physiotherapist today.

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