Hip Bursitis


Bursa sacs are located throughout the body. They provide a cushion between a bone and a muscle or a bone and a tendon. These sacks of fluid prevent friction between the harder bone and the softer tissue.

In the hip, the most common bursa to become injured is the trochanteric bursa. It can either be injured by a fall on the outer hip or through repetitive friction from the overlying muscles and tendons during running. This friction causes the bursa to become inflamed and swollen, resulting in pain.


Bursitis Causes

Bursitis is caused by an inflammation of a bursa. In the hip region, bursitis can occur when the tronchanteric bursa (the one on the outside of the hip on the bony point you can feel) or the iliososas bursa (located on the groin side of the hip) become inflamed.

Following are other health issues that can cause bursitis:

  • Repetitive stress (overuse) injury - This can be from running, stair climbing, biking or standing for long periods of time.
  • Hip injury - Bursitis can be triggered by a fall on the hip, bumping it into the edge of a table, or lying on one side of your body for extended periods of time.
  • Leg-length inequalities - When one leg is shorter than the other by more than an inch or so, it can affect the way you walk and lead to an irritation of a hip bursa.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis - This makes the bursae more likely to become inflamed on their own.
  • Bone spurs and calcium deposits - These can develop within the tendons that attach to the trochanter. They can irritate the bursa and cause an inflammation.


Symptoms of Bursitis

The primary symptom is pain at the point of the hip, which usually extends to the outside of the thigh area. In the early stage, it will be sharp and intense. Later, it may feel more like an ache and be spread out.

The pain is usually worse at night, especially when you lay on the affected hip. You may also notice it when you're seated for an extended period of time or if you're walking, climbing stairs or squatting for a while.

To confirm hip bursitis, your doctor will perform a complete physical exam and look for tenderness in the area of the point of the hip. Additional tests may be needed to rule out the possibility of other injuries or conditions, including x-rays, bone scans or an MRI.



The initial treatment strategy for hip bursitis is non-surgical. Many people can experience relief with just a few simple changes in their lifestyle, including:

  • Modifying activities - avoiding those that make your symptoms worse.
  • Using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen to control inflammation and pain.
  • Using a cane or crutches when necessary to relieve pain or pressure on the hip.
  • Engaging in physical therapy sessions to learn how to stretch your hip muscles and use other treatments such as ice, heat or ultrasound.
  • Receiving injections of corticosteroid along with a local anesthetic to relieve symptoms of bursitis. This can usually be done right in the doctor's office. A single injection often provides permanent relief.

Learn about Hip Bursitis surgery.

If you have questions about hip bursitis or want to make an appointment with us, please contact one of our Patient Care Coordinators and they'll be happy to help you.