Hip bursitis is a condition that can cause pain and decreased mobility in your hardworking hip joint. Hip bursitis symptoms can vary from each person who experiences them, depending on age, level of activity, and overall health. If you are suffering from pain in your hip, here are 11 common hip bursitis symptoms (and some hip bursitis treatment options).
What causes hip bursitis?
The hip joint is a ball-and-socket type joint that consists of the thighbone (the top of this femur bone, the trochanter, is the “ball” of the joint) nestled into the three bones that combine to make the “socket” portion (the ilium, the ischium, and the pubis).
Inside the joint itself, smooth white cartilage covers the head of the femur and lines the acetabulum (the cup that receives the femur). Synovial fluid created in the joint lining cushions and lubricates movement in this joint. This helps bones move without pain or irritation. Outside of the bones, there are ligaments, tendons, and muscles that work together to further stabilize the joint and prevent dislocation.
The hip joint also has fluid-filled sacs call bursae, located just above the trochanter between that bone and the acetabulum, and also inside the hip (in the groin area). The bursae further cushion the joint as it moves. When they are damaged or become inflamed, the result is hip bursitis.
Types of hip bursitis
There are two major types of hip bursitis: trochanteric bursitis and iliopsoas bursitis.
Trochanteric bursitis is primarily diagnosed in older adults. It is commonly caused by trauma or the degenerative effects from aging. However, differences in prevalence or incidence of trochanteric bursitis based on gender have not been identified.
On the other hand, iliopsoas bursitis occurs when the bursa that is connected to the iliopsoas tendon becomes inflamed. This form of bursitis is common in young adults and adolescents, especially women. It is referred to as the snapping-tendon syndrome. This is due to the abnormal movement of swollen muscles in the hip region that cause snapping which can be felt or heard when the hip flexes.
Hip bursitis causes
Causes of hip bursitis include:
- Injury or trauma to the hip: Falling or banging the hip on any surface traumatizes the bursae and could lead to this condition
- Repetitive motion injuries: Most hip bursitis is caused by a series of small traumas due to repetitive motions (e.g., hiking, biking, and jogging)
- Rheumatoid arthritis: This inflammatory type of arthritis can affect any of the joints in the body, including the hip
- Gout: Gout is the build-up of uric acid in the joints that creates irritating crystals in the synovial joints
- Changes to the body’s biomechanics: Injuries or issues with the knees and lower body can cause people to compensate with poor biomechanics in the hip (leading to pain and inflammation)
People recovering from hip surgery and those who have a history of inflammation in the bursae are more likely to develop hip bursitis, as are those who have bone spurs or calcium deposits.
Women aged 40 and up have a greater incidence of hip bursitis than men at any age.
6 common hip bursitis symptoms
The most common early symptom of iliopsoas bursitis is the sound or feeling of the tendon snapping in the hip with activity at any level. For both types, another common early hip bursitis symptom is pain. Pain is universal at all stages and for both types of this condition.
Here are additional symptoms to look for. As the condition persists, people with hip bursitis may experience an increase in symptoms, both in the kind of symptoms they experience and their severity.
1. Hip pain
As noted above, hip pain is a universal symptom of bursitis in the hip. Some people experience a burning or searing pain, while others may describe their pain as sharp. For most people, as the condition progresses, the pain becomes more of an ache. This does not mean it decreases, just that the quality of the pain changes.
Trochanteric bursitis pain is usually located on the outside of the hip. Those who suffer from iliopsoas bursitis generally experience their pain in the groin.
2. Radiating pain
In addition to the quality of the pain changing, pain may begin to radiate down the thigh and across the buttocks or into the groin.
This pain is different from sciatic pain (another leg pain condition) in that it rarely ventures below the knee.
3. Pain that is worse with repetitive motion
Some of the most common activities – jogging, climbing stairs, and even walking – can produce extraordinary bursts of hip bursitis pain.
This repetitive motion may exacerbate already inflamed bursae and increase pain levels.
4. Pain that is worse after prolonged inactivity
On the flip side, too much sitting can cause a flare up of hip bursitis symptoms.
Likewise, people with both types of bursitis may find their pain is greater in the morning after sleep.
5. Swelling, fever, tenderness, and warmth
If the bursae become infected, this is referred to as septic hip bursitis (and can occur with either type).
In addition to the symptoms above, people with septic hip bursitis will also experience symptoms of infection. Swelling, fever, tenderness, and warmth in the affected area may occur. Swelling is not as obvious in hip bursitis and is usually only associated with later stages of this condition. Other symptoms that accompany this infection also include a feeling of being unwell and fatigue.
Always talk to your doctor if you believe you’re suffering from an infection.
6. Pain in your typical range of motion
In the later stages of both types of hip bursitis, moving the leg across the body (adduction) or away from the body (abduction) are either impossible or very painful.
While we do not often move our legs in this manner, this decreased range of motion can begin to affect other areas of the body, including the lower back.
How to treat hip bursitis
Hip bursitis treatment varies depending on the progression of the condition, the severity of the symptoms, and your overall health.
Is walking good for hip bursitis?
In general, walking on a flat surface does not cause hip bursitis symptoms to flare up. For this reason, and for all of the other benefits that walking conveys, walking is usually approved for those with hip bursitis.
Walking on a soft surface at a moderate pace can strengthen the leg muscles that support the hips, improving outcomes. As with any treatment option, though, talk to your doctor to make sure.
The first and most common option for hip bursitis treatment is rest, but not complete inactivity. Remember that symptoms often flare up after extended periods of inactivity, so some activity is appropriate (like walking).
Take a break from the activity that may have caused your hip bursitis in the first place, though. If you are a runner or hiker, take some time off and practice yoga to strengthen the muscles in the hips and lengthen the IT band to help ease pain and inflammation in the hip. Yin yoga may also help, as the focus in this slow practice is to gently lengthen and strengthen the connective tissues.
For people who experience swelling and warmth as side effects of septic hip bursitis, icing can provide pain relief. Try a 20-minutes-on, 20-minutes-off schedule with some gentle movement in between as you can.
Again, pay attention to how this feels, and talk to your doctor.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Whether over the counter or prescribed, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can go a long way to relieve pain and inflammation in the hip joint.
It is important to take care, though. Overuse of NSAIDs can lead to serious gastrointestinal issues, even if only used for a short period of time. NSAIDs are very helpful, but make sure that you are following the dosage directions whether they are over the counter or prescribed. You should only use them for acute bouts of pain, too, not as a long-term pain management solution.
After rest and other treatments, physical therapy can go a long way to help treat the root causes of your hip bursitis.
If your hip bursitis is caused by injury or trauma, physical therapy is a great way to build strength and restore mobility. Others who experience hip bursitis due to biomechanical issues can learn how to better use their bodies so as to prevent future issues in the hips and other joints in the body. Regardless of the cause, a qualified physical therapist can design individualized exercises to treat your hip bursitis.
For septic hip bursitis, antibiotics are an important medication that are required to eliminate the infection.
For extreme cases, antibiotics may need to be administered intravenously, but this is rare.
Drainage of the bursa is also rarely indicated but can be helpful when bursae are infected to relieve pain and pressure.
In most cases, when drainage is the hip bursitis treatment of choice, your doctor may also recommend an injection at the same time.
Injections of corticosteroids and a local anesthetic can provide relief and increase mobility when more conservative treatments have failed.
This outpatient procedure offers first immediate pain relief (due to the local anesthetic), followed by a slight increase in pain as the anesthetic wears off, followed by a longer-term decrease or elimination of pain. In some cases, more than one injection may be necessary for complete pain relief.
Surgery is very rarely indicated and is only recommended when more conservative treatments have been unsuccessful. There are three surgical options.
- Bursectomy: A bursectomy removes the swollen or infected bursa. The goal of this procedure is to shorten the hip bursitis recovery time. Bursectomy is often performed with an IT band release.
- Tendon repair and IT (iliotibial) band release: In the case of hip bursitis with injury or detachment of the tendons, this surgery repairs the tendon and reattaches it to the greater trochanter. For trochanteric hip bursitis, the IT band release surgery helps lengthen the iliotibial band to minimize rubbing that causes inflammation.
- Osteotomy of the greater trochanter: In this surgery, your doctor shaves off a small portion of the greater trochanter. This may reduce the amount of friction between the trochanter and the acetabulum.
If you are experiencing hip bursitis symptoms and want to discuss your options, it may be time to talk to a pain specialist. They can find a treatment plan that works for you to help you get your life back.
You can find a pain doctor in your area by clicking the button below or looking for one in your area by using the tips here: https://paindoctor.com/pain-management-doctors/.