Bursitis in the hip

Bursitis, or inflammation of the bursa, is a condition that often affects the shoulders, knees and elbows. However, you can also develop bursitis in the hip. This occurs if the bursa on the outside of the hip becomes inflamed. Bursae are quite simply small, fluid-filled and shock-absorbing cushions that sit around the skeleton and tendons. Their main task is to act as a shock absorber for strain and to support movements by reducing resistance between the muscle and bones, for example. If the bursae are exposed to long-term strain, pressure or shock, they can become irritated and inflamed, which causes pain.

Reasons for bursitis in the hips

Bursitis in the hips, also called trochanteric bursitis, is not dangerous, even if it can feel uncomfortable and painful. However, this condition can be a sign that the person affected is improperly straining the joint or is exercising too hard or unevenly. This is particular the case if the damage has developed in conjunction with exercise. People who enjoy running or bicycling are particularly vulnerable, because the hips are strained unevenly during these activities. If you exercise a lot and are suffering from bursitis, it is important to change your exercise routine until the inflammation has subsided.

Long-term, uneven strain can occur in many ways. This is something that a physician or physiotherapist can analyze more closely. Common causes can be flat-footedness, osteoarthritis in the knees or hips as well as back pain.

Read more about osteoarthritis.

Another cause of trochanteric bursitis can be the joint undergoing a strong shock or the person falling on their hip. One example of this is a soccer goalie who jumps to the side to prevent a goal and lands on their hips without protection. This can irritate the bursa so that inflammation develops.

Signs of bursitis

If there is inflammation in a bursa, swelling is common around the area where the bursa is located. For example, if the hips are affected, it can be tender to press the outside of the thigh against the edge of the hip, the so-called trochanter. A certain amount of redness can develop, and pain on the outside of the hips can also arise. This is particular the case if the hips are strained, for example, going up a staircase or when you try to rest on the hip. If you suspect you have bursitis in the hip, you should visit a medical professional to get it confirmed.

How the diagnosis is confirmed

If you suspect that you are suffering from bursitis, you can visit a healthcare center to have your symptoms examined. In general, the diagnosis is confirmed based on your typical medical history and examination findings. If you suspect that the inflammation is caused by a bacterial infection, it may be necessary to examine the bursa with ultrasound therapy or by puncturing it and analyzing the liquid inside. However, this is very unusual in the case of trochanteric bursitis, but somewhat more common with bursitis in the knee or elbow.

Treating bursitis

In most cases, bursitis heals on its own and does not require medical treatment. Sometimes, however, anti-inflammatory medication is required to reduce the swelling. Another form of treatment for bursitis is avoiding strain and pressure, so a certain amount of rest is prescribed. However, it is still a good idea to keep the muscles active, so certain types of simple exercises should be performed. Physical therapy and stretching are also a basic form of treatment for bursitis in order to avoid the condition returning.

If the bursitis is due to a bacterial infection, it may be necessary to empty the fluid from the bursa, rinse it clean and then go on a round of antibiotics.

In the event of severe pain and problems with mobility due to bursitis, cortisone injections may also be an option. Cortisone is injected into the inflamed bursa. Cortisone is an anti-inflammatory medication and usually provides quick relief.

Exercising with bursitis in the hips

Training and exercise is generally good, but if the exercise is uneven or too strenuous, this can result in bursitis, and it is therefore important to find other kinds of exercises. If you want to continue training despite bursitis in the hips, it is important to consult a physiotherapist. If you are suffering from trochanteric bursitis, you can still exercise your upper body. However, you must be cautious about straining the lower body so that the inflammation in the hip is not worsened.

Taking walks and performing specific stretching exercises can be a good and reasonable way to keep the body active despite bursitis. During stretching, it is important to remember to be gentle on the body and not go too far. One exercise that is usually comfortable for people with bursitis is hip bends. There are a number of different variations that feel gentle on the hips.

Continue reading about different causes for hip pain.