Published: Nov. 11, 2010
Updated: Dec. 29, 2010
Bursitis is a condition caused by inflammation of a bursa, a small fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between bones and the overlying soft tissues. Bursae, located throughout the body, help reduce friction between gliding muscles and bones.
In the hip, a bursa rests between the bony projection over the outside of the hip (the greater trochanter) and the tendon that passes over this bone. If the bursal sac becomes inflamed, pain results when the tendon has to move over the bone.
Hip bursitis can affect anyone, but is most commonly affects women and middle-aged or elderly people. It is often seen in athletes, those who have sustained an injury, and post-surgical patients. Patients with spine disease, rheumatoid arthritis, bone spurs and calcium deposits are also at high risk.
Repetitive stress on the body is a very common risk factor. Activities like running, bicycling, climbing stairs, or standing for an extended period of time can lead to bursitis.
A physical examination by your doctor will help form diagnosis, with focus on pain and tenderness in the hip. Additional tests may also be used to rule out other possible injuries or underlying conditions. These tests can include x-rays, bone scanning, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Hip bursitis can be treated with cold compresses, rest, anti-inflammatory and pain medications, cortisone injections, and by use of walking aids such as a cane or single crutch.
Sometimes hip bursitis requires aspiration of the bursa fluid. This procedure, performed at your doctor's office, involves removal of the fluid with a needle and syringe. Sometimes the fluid is sent to the laboratory for further analysis.
Some patients may benefit from weight loss, as less weight relieves stress on the joints. Stretching exercises and physical therapy may also be recommended.
Surgery is rarely necessary. In those few cases where it is needed, an outpatient procedure called a bursectomy (removal of the bursa) is performed. This is often performed arthroscopically or through a very small incision.
Duke Orthopaedics treats hip bursitis at locations throughout North Carolina, including Raleigh, Durham, and Cary, North Carolina.
Watch an educational video about treatments for hip bursitis.