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3 Signs of Hip Bursitis and How We Treat the Condition

Feb 07, 2024
3 Signs of Hip Bursitis and How We Treat the Condition
The bursa sacs found throughout your body prevent friction in your joints. When these sacs become inflamed, however, they can lead to considerable pain when moving, especially in your hips.

The human body contains about 160 small, fluid-filled sacs called bursae, essential in preventing or reducing tissue friction. In an ideal world, these tiny sacs function well, and you can move freely and without pain. The opposite can be true when one of these sacs becomes inflamed, particularly in a major joint like your hip.

To help you get to the bottom of your hip pain, our team of musculoskeletal experts at Commonwealth Pain & Spine takes a closer look at hip bursitis — the signs and the treatments. 

A brief explanation of hip bursitis

Before we jump into the primary signs of hip bursitis, let’s quickly discuss this surprisingly prevalent condition, which affects about 15% of women and 8% of men.

As we mentioned, bursa sacs are filled with fluid and scattered throughout your body to help separate hard tissues from soft ones and keep them from rubbing against each other.

In your hips, there are two major bursae pairs:

  1. Trochanteric bursae that cover the bony tip of the joint
  2. Iliopsoas bursa in the inner hip (groin area)

Hip bursitis, inflammation in your hip’s bursa sac, most often develops in the trochanteric bursae outside your hips.

Hip bursitis often stems from repetitive use, arthritis, an injury to your hips, or any condition that leads to uneven leg lengths.

How to recognize hip bursitis

Now, let’s get into three of the most common signs of hip bursitis, which all boil down to different variations of pain and stiffness.

1. Pain

The first symptom that will grab your attention is pain. If you have bursitis in the trochanteric bursa, you will likely experience sharp pain on the outside of your hip, which can affect your upper thigh. The sharp pain can give way to a dull ache as the condition progresses.

If the bursitis develops in an iliopsoas bursa, the pain will be in your groin.

2. Stiffness

Many people with hip bursitis develop stiffness in the affected joint, especially after inactivity. The inflammation can worsen when you’re not moving around, making your first few steps stiff and painful.

3. Pain while you sleep

Another common complaint among people with hip bursitis is pain at night, especially if you try to sleep on the side with the inflamed bursa sac.

Your treatment options for hip bursitis

If we diagnose you with hip bursitis, our frontline treatments are trochanteric bursa injections, which contain corticosteroids that reduce the pain and the inflammation. 

How long these hip injections provide relief depends — some people enjoy many weeks while others get a year or more of results. 

In addition to the injections, we recommend activity modifications to give your hip a rest and physical therapy, which can help strengthen the muscles that support your hips.

Between the injections, rest, and physical therapy, we’re confident that we can help relieve the discomfort of hip bursitis.

For expert diagnosis and treatment of hip bursitis, we invite you to schedule an appointment at one of our 21 locations in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois.