Trochanteric Bursitis


What is trochanteric bursitis?

Bursa sacs are like small plastic bags that buffer muscle tendons where they attach to bones. The trochanteric bursa sac is located on the outside of each hip. It sits on top of the greater trochanter and underneath the gluteal muscles and tendons. A healthy trochanteric bursa allows for the muscles to slide along their bony attachments as you move and walk. If the trochanteric bursa is inflamed, walking and sitting can be very painful.

One of the most common causes involves improper walking techniques, due to a minor injury or strain. Over time, a person can overuse the gluteal muscles and they get irritated where they attach to the bone, and the bursa becomes inflamed. Other pain contributors include flat feet, poor shoe choices, and tight muscles in the hip and legs.

What causes trochanteric bursitis?

Trochanteric bursitis can be caused by an acute injury, prolonged pressure on the affected area, or activities that require repeated twisting or rapid joint movement such as jogging or bicycling long distances. These activities may lead to irritation or inflammation within the bursa. Other causes of trochanteric bursitis may be:

  • Disc disease of the low back or arthritis of the hip
  • Previous hip surgery
  • Leg-length inequality
  • Spine disease, such as scoliosis, arthritis of the lumbar (lower) spine, and other spine problems
  • Bone spurs or calcium deposits

What are symptoms of trochanteric bursitis?

  • Pain on the outside of the hip
  • Sharp pain which progresses to a dull ache
  • Pain that makes activity and sleep difficult
  • Worsen pain when getting up out of a chair, using stairs, and during extended walking, running or biking

How is trochanteric bursitis diagnosed?

A discussion of your symptoms, a physical examination, and X-rays are useful for a diagnosis. Your specialist may recommend having an MRI scan as well.

How is trochanteric bursitis treated?

Most people experience relief from hip bursitis with conservative, nonsurgical treatment. Based on the severity of symptoms, treatment options may include anti-inflammatory medication, cortisone injections, orthotics, and physical therapy. If nonsurgical treatment is not effective, surgery may be appropriate.

What can I do at home to treat trochanteric bursitis?

Home treatment for bursitis includes:

  • Rest
  • Ice packs to the affected area
  • Anti-inflammatory medications to relieve pain and swelling
  • Weight loss, to reduce pressure on the hip
  • Exercises for the hip and lower back
  • Avoiding activities that cause pain

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