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Hip (Trochanteric) Bursitis

  • What is hip bursitis?

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

    There are 2 major bursae of the hip – the trochanteric bursa and the ischial bursa. The trochanteric bursa is located on the outside of the hip, while the ischial bursa is at the upper buttock area.

  • The causes of hip bursitis include:

    • Bone spurs/projections or calcium deposits – which develop within the tendons attached to the trochanter (upper end of the thigh bone)
    • Hip injury – eg. from falling on the hip, bumping the hip on the edge of a piece of furniture or lying on one side of the body for a prolonged period
    • Leg-length inequality – when one of the legs is shorter than the other by more than 1 inch
    • Repetitive stress (overuse) injury – which can occur when climbing stairs, cycling, running or standing for a long time
    • Spine diseases – which can occur from lumbar (lower spine) arthritis 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 being seated
      • Which spreads over the outside of the thigh and may spread down the outside of the thigh
    • Swelling
    • Tenderness at the bursa

    The symptoms may worsen when climbing stairs, walking a lot or squatting.

  • Treatment depends on the location of the bursa but the aim is to rest the bursa, decrease swelling and allow time for recovery. If the bursitis persists despite treatment, surgical removal of the bursa may be advisable.

  • There is a risk that a swollen bursa can become infected, although it is rare as the swelling is deep within the body. If the bursa becomes infected, antibiotic treatment will be needed to treat it.

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