Physiotherapy Gold Coast

Hip Bursitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Effective Treatment

Hip pain can make us feel much more worn than we are, but it doesn’t necessarily signal the wear and tear of ageing. Hip bursitis is the most common cause of hip pain and generally easy to manage and recover from, however it can become chronic if not treated.

What is Bursitis of the Hip?

Hip bursitis (also called Trochanteric bursitis) is characterised by tissue damage and inflammation of the trochanteric bursa (the bursa that sits on the outer, bony point of the hip) causing hip and thigh pain. 

Bursae are small, fluid-filled sacs that cushion the connection between bones and soft tissue, to reduce friction. Bursitis is the inflammation of these bursae, often occurring near joints that perform frequent repetitive motions, and can happen not only in the hip but in other areas such as the shoulder (which we call Shoulder Bursitis). Hip bursitis can affect anyone but is more common in women and middle-aged or elderly people.

What Causes Hip Bursitis?

Hip bursitis most commonly occurs due to repetitive or prolonged activities placing strain on the trochanteric bursa, causing it to swell. However, there are other things that can lead to it:

  • An injury or fall
  • Rheumatoid arthritis 
  • Gout or pseudogout
  • Physical conditions such as scoliosis and differences in leg length
  • Excessive pressure over the outside of the hip (e.g. sleeping on a hard surface)
  • Tears or inflammation in the gluteus medius tendon (a deep hip muscle that helps control hip motion)

On rare occasions, the hip bursa can become infected. This condition is called septic hip bursitis. Certain medical conditions and medications that suppress people’s immune systems can make them more susceptible to septic bursitis. 

Is Hip Bursitis Hereditary?

While hip bursitis is commonly caused by repetitive or prolonged activities, genetics can also play a role in its development. Research suggests that certain individuals may have a genetic predisposition to developing hip bursitis. 

If you have a family history of hip bursitis, it is important to be aware of the risk and take preventive measures, such as maintaining strong hip muscles and avoiding repetitive activities that can strain the hip joint.

What Does Bursitis in the Hip Feel Like?

The main symptom of hip bursitis is pain and tenderness of the outer hip and thigh, and you may also notice swelling and feel warmth around the affected area. In the early stages, this pain is usually described as sharp and intense. Later, the pain may become more of an ache and spread across a larger area of the hip. 

Typically, the pain is worse at night, when lying on the affected hip, and when getting up from a chair after being seated for a while. It also may get worse with prolonged walking, stair climbing, or squatting.

How to Treat Hip Bursitis

Treatment focuses on rest and physical therapy. Many people with hip bursitis can experience relief and aid their recovery with simple steps, including:

  • The RICE formula: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation
  • Anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen
  • Physical therapy
  • Hip Bursitis Exercises

How to Heal Hip Bursitis Quickly

Dealing with hip bursitis can be quite uncomfortable, but there are steps you can take to promote a speedy recovery. Along with the recommended rest and physical therapy, you can try the following tips to help heal hip bursitis quickly:

  1. Apply ice to the affected area for 15-20 minutes several times a day to reduce inflammation.
  2. Take Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, such as Ibuprofen may be of help, as directed by your healthcare provider, but please check first with your Dr or medical practitioner.
  3. Incorporate hip bursitis exercises, such as hip bridges, lying lateral leg raises, and lying leg circles, into your routine. Consult with a physiotherapist for a customised exercise plan.
  4. Consider using assistive devices like crutches or walkers to alleviate pressure on the hip joint during the healing process.
  5. Follow proper rest and recovery techniques to allow the body to heal properly.

Remember, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation and a personalised treatment plan based on your specific condition.

What Aggravates Hip Bursitis?

Understanding the factors that can worsen hip bursitis can help you manage and prevent further discomfort. Here are some common aggravating factors to be mindful of:

  • Repetitive activities that put stress on the hips, such as running or cycling.
  • Sleeping on the affected hip or using a hard surface for extended periods.
  • Strenuous exercises that involve squatting, stair climbing, or prolonged walking.
  • Poor posture or biomechanical imbalances that place extra strain on the hip joint.
  • Wearing ill-fitting shoes that do not provide proper support.

By avoiding these aggravating factors and making appropriate lifestyle modifications, you can help alleviate symptoms and promote healing.

How Long Does Hip Bursitis Last?

The duration of hip bursitis can vary from person to person, depending on various factors such as the severity of the condition and adherence to treatment. With proper rest, physical therapy, and self-care measures, most individuals can experience significant improvement within 6 to 8 weeks. However, chronic cases or those with underlying factors may require more extended periods of treatment. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best course of action for your specific situation.

What Exercises Are Good For Bursitis of the Hip?

When it comes to hip bursitis, it’s essential to strike a balance between resting the affected area and engaging in exercises that can help strengthen the hip muscles and improve flexibility. Here are a few mobility and strength exercises that are generally considered safe and beneficial for individuals with hip bursitis:

Hip Bridges: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Slowly lift your hips off the ground, engaging your glutes and hamstrings. Hold for a few seconds, then lower back down. Repeat for a few sets, gradually increasing the repetitions as tolerated.

Lying Lateral Leg Raises: This exercise targets the outer hip muscles by lying on your side and lifting the top leg up and down. It helps improve hip stability and mobility.

Lying Leg Circles: This exercise involves lying on your back and lifting one leg off the ground, then moving it in circular motions. It helps improve hip flexibility and range of motion.

Clamshells: Lie on your side with your knees bent and heels together. Keeping your feet in contact with each other, open your knees apart while keeping your hips stable. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat on both sides for a few sets, gradually increasing the repetitions.

Standing Hip Abductions: Stand upright, holding onto a steady surface for support if needed. Lift one leg out to the side, keeping the knee straight but not locked. Hold for a few seconds, then lower the leg back down. Repeat on both sides for a few sets, gradually increasing the repetitions.

Quadruped Kneeling Hip Extensions: Get on your hands and knees, maintaining a neutral spine. Extend one leg back, keeping the knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Lift the leg upward until it is parallel to the ground, then lower back down. Repeat on both sides for a few sets, gradually increasing the repetitions.

We also recommend other preventative measures. It’s important to avoid repetitive activities that put stress on the hips while ensuring an adequate warm-up and cool-down before and after exercising. Getting a properly fitting shoe insert for leg-length differences is also essential, and maintaining strength and flexibility of the hip muscles will benefit your recovery and minimise the recurrence of bursitis.

Is Walking Good For Hip Bursitis?

While rest is typically recommended during the early stages of hip bursitis, as symptoms improve, low-impact exercises like walking can be beneficial for recovery. Walking helps to improve blood circulation, maintain joint mobility, and strengthen the surrounding muscles. However, it’s crucial to listen to your body and avoid overexertion. 

Start with shorter walks and gradually increase the duration and intensity as tolerated. If pain or discomfort persists while walking, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for personalised guidance.

How to Massage Hip Bursitis

Massage can be a valuable complement to your hip bursitis treatment plan. Here’s a simple self-massage technique to help relieve discomfort:

  • Lie on your back with a foam roller or a tennis ball placed under your affected hip.
  • Gently roll back and forth, allowing the roller or ball to apply gentle pressure to the tender areas. You can adjust the pressure by controlling the amount of body weight applied.
  • Focus on massaging the outer hip and thigh region.
  • Perform the massage for a few minutes daily or as needed, always being mindful of your pain tolerance.

If the pain increases during massage or if you have any concerns, it’s best to consult with a physiotherapist or healthcare professional who can provide specific guidance and techniques tailored to your condition.

How Should I Sleep With Hip Bursitis?

Finding a comfortable sleep position with hip bursitis can be challenging. However, certain adjustments to your sleeping position can help alleviate discomfort. Here are a few tips:

  • Sleep on your unaffected side with a pillow placed between your knees for support and to maintain proper alignment.
  • If sleeping on your side is not feasible, try sleeping on your back with a pillow placed under your knees to relieve pressure from the hips.
  • Avoid sleeping on the affected side as this can further irritate the bursa.
  • Experiment with different pillow placements and mattress firmness to find what works best for you.

It’s important to listen to your body and find a position that minimises pain and allows for a restful night’s sleep. If you continue to experience significant discomfort, consider consulting with a healthcare professional for further guidance.

Physiotherapy For Hip Bursitis

Physiotherapy offers a holistic approach to hip bursitis, addressing both the symptoms and underlying causes. Our experienced physiotherapists will start by conducting a thorough assessment of your condition, identifying the specific factors contributing to your pain.

Your personalised treatment plan may include:

Pain Management Techniques: Through various manual therapies, soft tissue techniques, and modalities like ultrasound or cold therapy, our physiotherapists will help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.

Individualised Exercise Programs: We’ll design exercises that target your hip muscles, aiming to strengthen and stabilise the area. These exercises can also enhance your overall flexibility and improve your hip’s range of motion.

Posture and Movement Correction: Incorrect posture and movement patterns can exacerbate hip bursitis. Our physiotherapists will guide you in adopting proper posture and movement mechanics to prevent further strain on your hip.

Education and Lifestyle Modification: Understanding the root causes of hip bursitis is crucial for long-term relief. Our experts will educate you on ergonomic adjustments, home exercises, and lifestyle changes that support your healing process.

At Core Healthcare, we’re not just here to treat the pain – we’re here to empower you with the knowledge and tools to manage your hip bursitis effectively. Our patient-centred approach means we prioritise your well-being and customise our treatments to suit your needs.

Are you suffering from hip bursitis? Are you wondering how to heal your bursitis quickly? Book in now with one of our Core Physiotherapists and get to the source of the issue, so you can get back to enjoying a pain-free life!