What is trochanteric bursitis of the hip?
Bursae are small, fluid-filled sacs that lie between bones and tendons. They allow muscle tendons to move freely over the bones by reducing friction. The trochanteric bursa is located over the bony point on the side of the hip, called the trochanter. When this bursa becomes inflamed it is known as trochanteric bursitis.
What causes trochanteric bursitis of the hip?
Trochanteric bursitis of the hip can affect anyone, but it is more common in women aged 40-60 years*. Other factors that can cause trochanteric bursitis include:
- Overuse injuries, particularly in athletic people
- Unequal leg length, which affects walking gait and puts strain on the bursa
- Hip injury,g. from a fall, or from lying on one side for a long period of time
- Spine disease, such as scoliosis
How is trochanteric bursitis of the hip diagnosed?
Pain over the outer side of the hip is the most common symptom of trochanteric bursitis. Your specialist will perform a careful assessment to check for this and ask you some questions about your pain. They may also perform other tests such as ultrasound, x-rays or MRI scans to rule out other injuries or conditions.
Treatment and recovery
Trochanteric bursitis can often be treated with simple lifestyle measures. Avoiding activities that worsen the symptoms, applying ice packs (wrapped in a towel) to the area, gentle physiotherapy, and anti-inflammatory medicines can all help to reduce your pain and inflammation within a few weeks.
If your pain persists, you may benefit from ultrasound-guided steroid injections to the outer thigh, or biological treatments to help your symptoms settle.
Surgery is only recommended if these treatments have not been successful, or in severe cases. The inflamed bursa can be surgically removed by keyhole surgery, known as hip arthroscopy. Your hip is able to function normally without the bursa, and the procedure does not damage the hip. Hip arthroscopy can be performed as a same-day procedure, meaning admission to hospital is not usually necessary. Recovery from the operation takes between 4-6 weeks.
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*Patient.info, Tidy, C. (2019). Greater Trochanteric Pain Syndrome (Trochanteric Bursitis). [online] Available at: https://patient.info/health/hip-problems/greater-trochanteric-pain-syndrome-trochanteric-bursitis [Accessed 24 Jan. 2019].