The bursae (plural of bursa) are small sacs filled with fluid. They provide cushioning for the tissues surrounding your joints. If the bursae become inflamed, they can be very painful. Pain is the first sign of the hip bursitis symptoms. While it can occur in all joints, it commonly occurs in the shoulder, hip, and elbow. When hip bursitis appears, it can interfere with walking and with your overall quality of life.
In our hip bursitis symptoms and treatment overview, you will find useful details regarding this condition’s signs and how it manifests itself in the body. Also, we will present the most effective treatment methods used by doctors nowadays.
What Is Hip Bursitis?
Hip bursitis refers to the inflammation of one or more of the bursae in the hip. There are two types of hip bursae: trochanteric bursae and iliopsoas bursae. The trochanteric bursa covers the bony point of the femur where it meets the pelvis, and the iliopsoas bursa is located in the groin area.
Hip bursitis is often caused by irritation of the bursae. The bursae can become irritated through repetitive movements or overuse injuries. Injuries or trauma can also cause hip bursitis symptoms, and certain types of arthritis may also contribute. Additionally, having a difference in leg lengths can also cause bursa irritation, which can then predispose you to hip bursitis.
While anyone can develop hip bursitis, your likelihood of developing it increases with age. Additionally, hobbies or jobs that involve repetitive stresses of the hip joint can increase the risk of developing hip bursitis.
What Are the Symptoms of Hip Bursitis?
Most cases of hip bursitis involve the trochanteric bursae, as these bursae are more easily irritated. Most people with hip bursitis will experience pain around the area of the bursa. At first, the pain will usually seem sharp, but it may dull over time and seem to spread out over a wider area. It also can spread down the outside of the thigh.
Commonly, someone with hip bursitis will experience pain on the outside of the hip. When this area is pressed or bumped, the pain will intensify. For those who have hip bursitis, any motion that increases pressure on the affected bursa will intensify the pain. Running, squatting, climbing stairs, and even getting out of cars can cause pain.
Typical Hip Bursitis Symptoms that Patients Might Experience
- Radiating pain that intensifies when walking or moving around.
- Hip tenderness.
- Hip swelling.
- Redness and warmth sensation in the hip.
- Some people might even experience fever.
Quickcare or ER?
While severe hip bursitis can be quite painful, this is not a condition that would require you to go to the ER. A trip to the ER is warranted for the following:
- Inability to bear weight.
- Inability to walk.
- Severe pain.
Some cases of hip bursitis will go away on their own, but others may require pain management and medical intervention.
If you have hip bursitis symptoms that don’t appear to be resolving, or if the pain is severe, the best course of action is to schedule an appointment with your regular doctor. If you are looking first to treat bursitis at home, taking anti-inflammatory drugs (Advil, Naproxen, Motrin), resting your hip, and applying ice can help.
Diagnosing Hip Bursitis
What Will Your Doctor Ask?
Before your doctor asks you to undergo specific tests, he or she will likely take a medical history of your hip bursitis symptoms. Your doctor will likely ask how long the symptoms have been going on, if they have improved or worsened over time, and if the pain radiates anywhere else.
Your doctor may also ask you about your activities. This can help your doctor make personalized lifestyle recommendations. For example, if you do a lot of squatting in your day-to-day life, your doctor may suggest you reduce this motion to help your bursitis heal.
What Will Your Doctor Look For?
Your doctor will likely perform a physical examination. This can help determine the exact location of the pain you’re experiencing. During this exam, your doctor will be able to get a feel for whether your suspected hip bursitis symptoms are due to hip bursitis or to another medical condition.
Sometimes, your doctor may order other tests, since these can help rule out other medical issues. These tests may include MRIs, X-rays, and bone scans.
How Will Your Doctor Analyze It?
As your doctor conducts examinations and tests, he or she is making sure that the final diagnosis is the right one. Since the hip joint involves a variety of different tissue types, it is sometimes challenging to definitively diagnose the cause of possible hip bursitis symptoms from a physical exam alone.
If your hip bursitis symptoms are severe enough to interfere with everyday life, your doctor may be more likely to order imaging studies to rule out other, potentially serious injuries. While taking your history and running diagnostic tests, your doctor will also think of the best treatment recommendations for you.
What Is the Treatment for Hip Bursitis?
1: Natural Remedies Applied at Home
There are several available treatments for hip bursitis. Which treatment you and your doctor choose will depend on the severity of your bursitis. Generally, though, the first line of treatment is rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications at home.
2: Physical Therapy
If this does not work, your doctor may recommend other methods of treatment. These may include physical therapy. Therapy can reduce the likelihood of recurrence since it strengthens the muscles around the bursa.
3: Antibiotic Treatment
If your doctor believes your bursitis is caused by infection as opposed to irritation alone, he or she may prescribe antibiotic therapy. Once the infection has been adequately treated, bursitis will likely disappear.
4: Steroid Injections
Sometimes, steroid injections are prescribed. In my experience, injections into the hip are done by specialists such as orthopedic doctors or physiatrists. These can immediately relieve pain. More rarely, the bursa can be surgically removed.
5: Arthroscopic Removal Incision
More recently, a less invasive arthroscopic removal has been studied. This method involves a tiny incision and less recovery time.
6: Hip Orthotics
If your hip bursitis has been caused or aggravated by poor biomechanics, your doctor may prescribe orthotics to help correct issues with your gait. Once any existing issues are corrected, bursitis may resolve itself.
Hip Bursitis Recovery Time
The length of time you will have hip bursitis symptoms depends on a variety of factors, including how severe the inflammation is, how soon you seek treatment, and what type of treatment your doctor prescribes. Bursitis can become chronic, especially if it is caused by everyday activities.
However, if your doctor prescribes therapy or lifestyle interventions for your hip bursitis symptoms, you may be able to successfully prevent your hip bursitis from coming back.
If you suspect that you are experiencing hip bursitis symptoms, you may first want to try conservative treatment measures at home. Then, if these measures fail to treat your pain, you should make an appointment with your doctor.
If you do make an appointment, be sure to answer all his/her questions as thoroughly as you can. This can help you, and your doctor work together to develop the best treatment plan for you.