Greater Trochanteric (Hip) Bursitis

By Erin Higins, DPT
Jumpstart Physical Therapy

Have you ever noticed a nagging pain on the outside of your hip, right over your leg bone as seen in the picture? You just may have bursitis!

What is it? A bursa is a fluid filled sac that is located all over one's body. They are typically located between bones and muscles/tendons that make up your joints, such as your shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle. Bursas help to reduce friction during movement. With overuse, a bursa sac can become inflamed, causing pain. Pain over a part of your thigh bone called the "greater trochanter" is typically caused by inflammation of the trochanteric bursa.

Symptoms: Initially, the pain of trochanteric bursitis is often described as a sharp pain over the lateral hip that occasionally radiates from that area. Chronic bursitis is typically described as achy and dull. The pain is typically worse with activity due to increase in pressure over the bursa as your muscles and tendons shift. Another common complaint is pain while lying on your side due to increased pressure on the inflamed bursa. The pain typically decreases with rest due to lack of pressure on the bursa.

Management: Given that bursitis in an inflammatory process, icing daily can be beneficial to reduce the swelling and thus pain. Additionally, NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory drugs) can also help (speak to your doctor prior to starting in order to ensure it is safe for you; it is never a good idea to take such medicine for a prolonged period of time) to reduce swelling. It is also important to modify your exercise routine and/or daily routine in order to avoid activities that worsen symptoms. If you continue doing those aggravating activities, you will keep irritating the bursa, causing more inflammation and pain!

Finally, maintaining your strength and flexibility are extremely important in the management of hip bursitis. It is common that one's hip flexors, glutes, or IT band are tight, putting increased pressure on the bursa at the hip. Therefore, maintaining your flexibility through stretching and foam rolling can help to prevent and/or manage bursitis. Be cautious to avoid foam rolling directly over the bone on the outside of your leg so that you don't irritate your bursa! Additionally, keeping your hips and core strong will decrease your risk for getting bursitis as well.