Hip (Trochanteric) Bursitis

What is trochanteric bursitis?

Bursitis is irritation or inflammation of the bursa. A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between tendons, bones, and skin. There is a bump on the outer side of the upper part of the thigh bone (femur) called the greater trochanter. The trochanteric bursa is located over the greater trochanter. When this bursa is inflamed it is called trochanteric bursitis

What is the cause?

The trochanteric bursa may be inflamed by a group of muscles or tendons rubbing over the bursa and causing friction against the thigh bone. Your iliotibial band goes from the iliac crest of your pelvis down the outer side of your thigh and attaches just below the knee. A tight iliotibial band can lead to trochanteric bursitis. This injury can occur with running, walking, or bicycling, especially when the bicycle seat is too high.

Trochanteric bursitis may also be caused by a fall, by a spine disorder, by differences in the length of your legs, or as a complication of hip surgery.

What are the symptoms?

You have pain on the upper outer area of your thigh or on the side of your hip. The pain is worse when you walk, bicycle, or go up or down stairs. You have pain when you move your thigh bone and feel tenderness in the area over the greater trochanter.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and examine your hip and thigh.

How is it treated?

To treat this condition:

  • Put an ice pack, gel pack, or package of frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth on the painful area every 3 to 4 hours for up to 20 minutes at a time until the pain goes away.
  • Take an anti-inflammatory medicine, such as ibuprofen, as directed by your provider. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) may cause stomach bleeding and other problems. These risks increase with age. Read the label and take as directed. Unless recommended by your healthcare provider, do not take for more than 10 days.
  • Follow your provider’s instructions for doing exercises to help you recover.
  • Your provider may give you a shot of a steroid medicine.

While you are recovering from your injury you will need to change your sport or activity to one that does not make your condition worse. For example, you may need to swim instead of running or bicycling. If you are bicycling, you may need to lower your bicycle seat.

A bursa that is only mildly inflamed and has just started to hurt may improve within a few weeks. A bursa that is significantly inflamed and has been painful for a long time may take up to a few months to improve. You need to stop doing the activities that cause pain until your bursa has healed.

Follow your healthcare provider's instructions. Ask your provider:

  • How and when you will hear your test results
  • How long it will take to recover
  • What activities you should avoid and when you can return to your normal activities
  • How to take care of yourself at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.

How can I help prevent trochanteric bursitis?

Trochanteric bursitis is best prevented by warming up properly and stretching the muscles on the outer side of your upper thigh.

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Published by RelayHealth.
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