To put it simply, hip bursitis is inflammation of the bursa in the hip. Bursae are thin, lubricated cushions that reduce friction between bones. There are approximately 160 bursae in an adult body. The hip contains two major bursae known as the greater trochanteric bursa and the iliopsoas bursa. The greater trochanteric bursa covers the bony point of the hip bone known as the greater trochanter, and inflammation of this bursa is what we call Trochanteric Bursitis.
Trochanteric bursitis is often caused by the iliotibial band (IT band) tightening and rubbing against the bursa. This leads to inflammation in the bursa that can cause pain and tenderness in this region as well as pain that radiates from the hip down the outside of the thigh. Other symptoms include pain when lying on the affected side, pain when pressing on the outside of the hip, and pain that worsens with activity such as walking up stairs. In the initial stages, patients typically report sharp and intense pain that later becomes more of an ache that is spread across a larger area of the hip.
It has been found that women are far more likely to develop trochanteric bursitis than men, although physically active and sedentary adults of all ages are at risk for developing trochanteric bursitis.
The good news is that surgery is often not needed for the treatment of trochanteric bursitis. We can usually treat this condition with conservative measures like activity modification (avoiding activities that worsen symptoms), over the counter anti-inflammatories, short-term use of assistive devices (like canes or crutches), physical therapy and steroid injections. In the rare case that surgery is indicated, the bursa can be removed using arthroscopic surgical techniques. The hip is not hurt by the removal of the bursa and can function normally without it.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important that you contact a physician for a proper diagnosis. With the right treatment plan, you can eliminate your symptoms and return to your active lifestyle without the need for surgical intervention.