Hip Bursitis

Hip bursitis is a painful condition that occurs when fluid-filled sacs called bursa become inflamed. Bursa are found in many joints, providing a cushion between the bones while preventing painful friction. In the hip, there are two bursa – the trochanteric bursa, located on the outer side of the upper thigh bone, and the iliopsoas bursa, located near the groin area. Hip bursitis can involve either (or both) bursa, but most commonly involved the trochanteric bursa.

Causes of Hip Bursitis

Inflammation of the bursa is often seen in people who participate in sports that require considerable running. The constant use and jolting of the joint can irritate the bursa, resulting in inflammation. Hip bursitis also commonly occurs as a result of falling or other injuries to the joint, and it can also occur following surgery. People with spine disease and rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to have hip bursitis, as are people who have one leg that’s shorter than the other.

People who have trochanteric hip bursitis typically experience pain on the outside of the hip extending to the thigh, which intensifies with long periods of walking, when climbing stairs, or when rising from a chair or squatting. Iliopsoas bursitis causes pain in the area of the groin.

Treatment of Hip Bursitis

Once bursitis is diagnosed with a physical examination and sometimes an x-ray or MRI when needed, treatment focuses on relieving inflammation and painful symptoms. Treatment for hip bursitis begins with rest and anti-inflammatory medications to help relieve inflammation and pain.

Heat and ice therapy may also be used to reduce painful symptoms, and physical therapy can also be used to help promote flexibility and improve pain-free range of motion while stimulating circulation for better healing. Injections of corticosteroids may be recommended when oral anti-inflammatory medicines aren’t effective.

When these conservative options don’t provide relief, surgical removal of the bursa may be recommended. Treatment recommendations are made following an in-depth evaluation of each patient’s medical needs, overall health, extent of the disease and other factors to ensure the most appropriate course of care and the best possible outcome.

What is hip bursitis?

Hip bursitis is inflammation of the bursa hitting on the outside of the hip. Bursa is a small piece of tissue. It’s a sac which is filled with jelly like material.

What are the symptoms of hip bursitis?

Hip bursitis manifests itself as pain on the outside of the hip. The symptoms are typically aggravated when the patient lays on that side.

What are the treatment options for hip bursitis?

Hip bursitis usually is amenable to over-the-counter medications and some physical therapy which includes pain modalities. If the patients don’t get relief with physical therapy and over-the-counter medications, injection of steroids into the hip joint is an excellent treatment option. Most patients do not need a second or a third injection inside the hip joint.

How is hip bursitis diagnosed?

Hip bursitis is diagnosed based on history and physical examination. On history the patient complains of pain over the outside of the hip joint and the pain is aggravated when laying on that side. On examination, there is tenderness over the hip bursa, over the outside of the hip. X-rays and MRIs usually are normal. X-ray does not show bursitis.

What happens if hip bursitis is not treated?

If bursitis is not treated, it results in ongoing pain. You may have exacerbations and remissions. It’s important to have evaluation to rule out other causes that might give rise to symptoms of hip bursitis. If the condition is deteriorating, it is important to have it evaluated by a medical provider.

Is bursitis a form of arthritis?

No. Bursitis is different from arthritis. Arthritis is inside the hip joint. Bursitis is outside the hip joint.

Are there any exercises that can be done for hip bursitis?

Stretching exercises may help the hip bursitis. Specific stretches that can be learned from your orthopedic provider or from the physical therapist. I tell my patients to stretch the IT band. There are also other stretching exercises for the lower extremity which may help alleviate pain from hip bursitis.

What causes bursitis in the hip?

Bursitis is inflammation on the outside of the hip joint and can be caused by a variety of factors including trauma. It is not a serious condition. Most bursitis in the hips gets better with some rest time, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medication. If it doesn’t get better, injection of cortisone usually takes care of it for a very long time.

What does bursitis in the hip feel like?

Bursitis presents as pain on the outside of the hip joint. It is usually there more when the patient lies on that side.

Where is hip bursitis pain located?

Hip bursitis is located on the outside of the hip joint.

What can you take for hip bursitis?

You can use some over the counter anti-inflammatory medication and local over the counter patches. If it is symptomatic it is best to get yourself evaluated by an orthopedic surgeon to make sure there are no other causes of hip pain. In evaluating a patient with hip bursitis I look at the hip, I also look at the knee and the back, because pain from hip bursitis also could be coming from the back.

What is the test for hip bursitis?

The most definitive bursitis is tenderness over the hip bursae, which is on the outside of the hip. Ranging the pain typically does not cause pain in the hip joint; however, extreme flexion and adduction, which means moving the knee to the other side can cause pain over the outside of the hip, which can be due to hip bursitis.

What is the difference between hip bursitis and arthritis of the hip?

Hip bursitis is a nuisance. It causes pain on the outside of the hip joint. It is responsible for pain in the patient laying on their side. It typically does not interfere with activities of daily living. Arthritis of the hip is a significantly disabling condition causing serious pain in the groin. Arthritis of the hip is a progressively deteriorating condition and it doesn’t get better with time, it only worsens with time. Hip bursitis can get better with time.

How does the orthopedic surgeon test for hip bursitis?

On examination, the range of motion of the hip joint is terminally limited and the patient has tenderness over the outside of the hip joint. The back, both knees, and both ankle are normal on examination. The lower back is also examined, the hip is examined, and both knees and ankles are also examined to ensure that there is no other source of pain. In bursitis the X-rays are typically not affected. MRI may show bursitis and a bone scan is negative.

What is the most common bursitis in the hip joint?

Hip has many bursal sacs. The most common bursitis in the hip joint is “Trochanteric” bursitis which is the bursa located on the outside of the hip joint. This bursa is the most commonly affected and inflamed bursa around the hip.

Is bursitis painful?

Yes, bursitis of the hip joint can cause pain and discomfort on the outside of the hip joint.

Is bursitis dangerous?

Bursitis is a benign condition. It’s a nuisance more than anything else! However, it is extremely important to make sure that there are no other conditions associated with hip bursitis that are causing pain in the hip joint. Clinical evaluation and radiological studies usually help in assessing the full extent of the problem.

Is heat good for hip pain?

For hip being from arthritis or bursitis, physical therapy is an option. Physical therapy involves numerous pain modalities which include TENS, lasers, friction massage, etc. Sometimes alternating heat with cold is also helpful and physical therapists use range of modalities to treat pain coming from the hip joint. In addition, home program is also given to a patient to carry out at home and that can include heat or it can include combination of heat and cold alternating with each other.

Hip Bursitis Treatment in New York City and Long Island

Painful hips can cause significant issues with quality of life, restricting your movements and making even simple everyday tasks seem daunting. Many people with hip bursitis have difficulty walking, climbing stairs and riding in cars, and even sleeping comfortably can become problematic eventually. Dr. Karkare is a leading orthopedic surgeon in New York City and Long Island, with significant skill in diagnosing and treating all sorts of joint pain, including hip bursitis.

Like any type of joint pain, hip bursitis responds best when treatment begins as early as possible. If you’ve been experiencing pain in the hip or the area surrounding the hip or the groin, or if you’re having pain in any other joint, call Dr. Karkare today at 516-735-4032 or schedule an appointment online.


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Dr. Nakul Karkare