What is trochanteric bursitis?
Bursitis is swelling in a small, fluid-filled sac called a bursa. Bursae (the plural of bursa) cushion spaces around bones and other tissue. They’re like bubble wrap that protects structures throughout your body.
Your hip joint is where your thigh bone (femur) connects to your pelvis. The pointed upper, outside edge of your femur is called the greater trochanter. Trochanteric bursitis happens when the bursa that covers your greater trochanter is damaged, inflamed or irritated.
Visit a healthcare provider if you’re experiencing hip pain, especially if the pain gets worse or doesn’t go away in a couple of weeks.
Symptoms and Causes
What are trochanteric bursitis symptoms?
Hip pain is the most common trochanteric bursitis symptom. You might feel pain:
- On the outside of your hip.
- In the side of your upper thigh.
- In your butt (your buttock).
- When you’re lying on the affected side.
- That gets worse when you stand up after sitting.
- That gets worse when moving or using your hip, especially for activities like walking upstairs.
What causes trochanteric bursitis?
Anything that irritates or damages the bursa near your great trochanter can cause trochanteric bursitis. The most common causes include:
- Repetitive motions: Lifting heavy boxes at work, climbing up and down stairs a lot or standing for a long time can all cause bursitis. So can playing sports or doing physical activity that puts a lot of stress on your hips (like cycling or running).
- Hip injuries: Falling, bumping or lying on one hip for a long time can injure your hip joint and cause bursitis. Sports injuries can irritate your bursa, too.
- Issues with your posture: Health conditions that affect the shape of your hip joint or lumbar spine (your lower back) can put too much pressure on your bursa. Scoliosis, hip bone spurs, having legs that are different lengths and calcium deposits in the tendons that attach to your hip can all lead to bursitis.
What are the risk factors for trochanteric bursitis?
Anyone can develop trochanteric bursitis, especially after a fall or another injury. Some groups of people are more likely to experience bursitis, including:
- People who do physical work or manual labor.
- People who’ve had surgery on their hips.
People with certain health conditions have a higher risk of bursitis, including:
Diagnosis and Tests
How is trochanteric bursitis diagnosed?
A healthcare provider will diagnose trochanteric bursitis with a physical exam. They’ll ask you about your symptoms and examine the area around your affected hip. Tell your provider what you were doing before you noticed symptoms for the first time and if any jobs or hobbies require you to do a repetitive motion or put stress on your hips.
What tests do healthcare providers use to diagnose trochanteric bursitis?
Your provider might use some tests to diagnose bursitis, including:
Management and Treatment
What is the best treatment for trochanteric bursitis?
Usually, rest is all you’ll need to treat trochanteric bursitis. Avoid the activity or positions that irritated your greater trochanter bursa.
Taking a break from activities that put pressure on your hip will give the bursa time to heal. Ask your provider how long you’ll need to rest and avoid certain physical activities.
Other trochanteric bursitis treatments include:
- Taking over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers like ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen. Don’t take pain relievers for more than 10 days in a row without talking to your provider.
- Using a cane or crutches to reduce how much pressure your put on your hip while you’re moving and walking.
- Physical therapy can strengthen the area around your injured hip. A physical therapist will give you stretches and exercises.
- Corticosteroid injections to decrease inflammation and pain.
- Surgery to resect (remove) your bursa if other treatments aren’t effective and you’re still experiencing symptoms for more than six months. It’s rare to need surgery for trochanteric bursitis.
How can I prevent trochanteric bursitis?
The best way to prevent trochanteric bursitis is to avoid overusing your hips:
- Learn the proper posture or technique for sports or work activities.
- Ease into new exercises or activities to avoid injuries.
- Avoid lying on one side for too long.
- Take breaks if you’re doing a repetitive task.
Outlook / Prognosis
Will trochanteric bursitis ever go away?
Trochanteric bursitis usually gets better after a few weeks to a few months of rest and treatment. You might have an increased risk of it coming back (recurring) if a repetitive motion or activity caused bursitis. Talk to your healthcare provider about ways to reduce stress on your hips.
Don’t ignore hip pain. You can increase your risk of making a small injury more serious if you put more stress on your hip before seeing a healthcare provider.
Will I need to miss work or school if I have trochanteric bursitis?
You might need to miss work or school while you’re recovering if a repetitive motion that’s part of your job or studies causes trochanteric bursitis. Tell your provider about your usual routine. They’ll explain which parts of it you need to modify or take a break from while you’re resting your injured bursa.
When should I see my healthcare provider?
Visit a healthcare provider if you’re experiencing pain that makes it hard to do your day-to-day activities. See a provider if you have hip pain that doesn’t get better in a week or two with rest and at-home treatments.
What questions should I ask my healthcare provider?
- Do I have trochanteric bursitis or another cause of hip pain?
- Will I need any tests?
- Which treatments will I need?
- Will I need physical therapy?
- When is it safe to resume sports or other physical activities?
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between hip bursitis and trochanteric bursitis?
Technically, hip bursitis and trochanteric bursitis are the same condition. Trochanteric is a specific type of hip bursitis. It happens when the bursa that cushions the greater trochanter part of your femur is swollen. It usually causes hip pain.
Hip bursitis can also affect the other bursa in your hip joint — the iliopsoas bursa near your groin. Iliopsoas bursitis causes groin pain.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Trochanteric bursitis is swelling near your hip joint that makes it hard to move pain-free. The good news is that it usually gets better with a few weeks of rest. Talk to a healthcare provider as soon as you notice hip pain that doesn’t get better in a few days.
Your provider will help you find a combination of treatments that relieves your pain while your hip heals. They’ll also suggest ways to prevent future bouts of bursitis.
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