August 14, 2023

What Is Hip Bursitis?

hip bursitis
Our hips are built for tremendous strength, stability, and flexibility. They can also tolerate a great deal of stress from our walking, running, jumping, etc. However, over time, the components of our hip joints can wear down, resulting in discomfort and pain. 

Specifically, structures called bursae, which provide cushioning between bones and soft tissues,  can become inflamed, resulting in a condition called hip bursitis. If you’ve experienced it, you may have wondered, “How do I heal bursitis of the hip bone area?” 

This article provides insights into this condition, including hip bursitis symptoms and how it is diagnosed and treated. 

Iliopsoas Bursitis and Trochanteric Bursitis

There are two primary types of hip bursitis: iliopsoas bursitis and trochanteric bursitis. 

Iliopsoas bursitis affects the iliopsoas bursa, which is on the inside of the hip joint. Despite being a type of hip bursitis, it produces pain in the groin (the inside of the thigh where it meets the abdomen). It’s less common than trochanteric bursitis, but doctors diagnose and treat it the same way. 

Trochanteric bursitis is inflammation of the bursa that covers a bony point on the outside of the hip called the greater trochanter. 

Hip Bursitis Symptoms and Risk Factors

The primary hip bursitis symptom is pain at the point of the hip and extending to the outside of the thigh. In the initial stages of hip bursitis, the pain is sharp and intense. Over time, patients report it as an ache covering a wider area of the hip and thigh. 

The discomfort tends to be worse at certain times and with specific activities, including:

  • In the evening
  • After prolonged squatting, walking, or stair climbing
  • When lying on the affected side
  • When getting up after an extended period of sitting

You’re more likely to develop hip bursitis if you have any of the following risk factors:

  • You’re female.
  • You’re middle-aged or older.
  • You’ve overused the joint in running, biking, standing, etc.
  • You don’t stretch properly before exercise or listen to your body when it’s telling you to ease up.
  • One of your legs is longer than the other.
  • You are overweight.
  • You have rheumatoid arthritis.
  • You’ve suffered a previous hip injury or had hip surgery.
  • You have calcium deposits or bone spurs on or near the trochanter.

Hip Bursitis vs. Arthritis

Arthritis is another condition that can cause hip pain and discomfort. It’s a problem inside the hip joint that occurs when cartilage breaks down over time and doesn’t adequately prevent the bones from rubbing against one another. 

It can be challenging to tell the difference between hip bursitis and arthritis. However, your doctor can determine which is causing your pain. 

Hip Bursitis Diagnosis

Doctors diagnose hip bursitis by doing a physical exam to pinpoint the source of the pain. They may also order imaging tests like X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and bone scanning to rule out other possible causes. 

If you receive a positive hip bursitis diagnosis, your doctor will develop a treatment plan for minimizing your pain and discomfort.

Hip Bursitis Treatment

Doctors can improve hip bursitis with nonsurgical and surgical treatments. 

Nonsurgical hip bursitis treatment

Hip bursitis starts with nonsurgical methods that may include:

  • Avoiding activities that inflame the affected bursa
  • Icing the hip
  • Using a cane or other assistive device to reduce pressure on the hip
  • Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like naproxen, ibuprofen, celecoxib, piroxicam, and others 
  • Getting physical therapy to increase hip flexibility and strength
  • Getting corticosteroid injections into the bursa to reduce inflammation temporarily or permanently

Surgical hip bursitis treatment

Rarely does a patient require surgical treatment for hip bursitis. However, if you’ve tried all nonsurgical therapies without success, your doctor may recommend hip bursitis surgery. 

This surgery involves removing the affected bursa. Taking it out doesn’t harm the hip or cause problems with its functioning. Doctors can perform traditional surgery or, more recently, arthroscopic surgery to remove the bursa. In either case, it’s typically an outpatient procedure (meaning there’s no hospital stay), and patients often are up and walking that evening.

People who get surgical hip bursitis treatment generally require a brief rehabilitation period and may need to use a cane for a few days. But the pain from the surgery usually resolves within a few days. 

Talk with Your Baptist Health Doctor About Hip Bursitis

If you experience symptoms and want to know how to heal hip bursitis quickly, Baptist Health can help! Your primary care doctor can diagnose your condition and recommend treatment. They can also refer you to an orthopedic specialist if needed. 

Learn More.