Physiotherapy Gold Coast

Hip Bursitis

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.

Causes of 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 hip bursitis:

  • 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. 

Hip Bursitis: Signs & Symptoms

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.

Hip Bursitis Treatment

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

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

Hip Bursitis Exercises

There are many exercises and stretches you can do to aid recovery. Having a strong muscular base supporting your hips will enable you to perform the same movements with fewer traumas caused to the joint itself. Instead, your muscles will absorb the impact. Exercises for hip bursitis include:

  • Hip bridges (aka glute bridges) 
  • Lying lateral leg raises 
  • Lying leg circles 

For a tailored exercise plan for your bursitis, get in contact with your physiotherapist. 

Hip Bursitis Prognosis

Most patients heal well with appropriate physiotherapy and return to normal function over a 6 to 8 week period. Although it can’t always be prevented, there are things you can do to prevent the inflammation from getting worse:

  • Avoid repetitive activities that put stress on the hips
  • Warm-up and cool down before and after exercising
  • Get a properly fitting shoe insert for leg-length differences
  • Maintain strength and flexibility of the hip muscles.

Think this might be you? Book in now and talk to one of our Core Physiotherapists and get to the source of the issue, so you can get back to enjoying a pain-free life!