Hip Bursitis: A pain in Our Butt




If you have had pain in the side of your hip, often aggravated by lying on your side, crossing your leg, or when walking up or down stairs, you may have been told that you have hip bursitis. This diagnosis is used quite often, but we prefer to call it by another name, greater trochanteric pain syndrome, or even just simply lateral hip pain!

Bursae typically get a bad reputation for being the cause of a lot of issues, through shoulders, knees and hips alike, but did you know that you have over 150 bursae in your body! They are small, fluid filled sacs that act as a pillow for certain locations in your joints where tendons wrap around a bone, and their primary function is to reduce friction. So sometimes when there has been in increase in load to a muscle or tendon, the bursa can get irritated and painful, hence the term bursitis.

The reason we don’t like using this term is because it doesn’t describe the actual cause of the issue too well. The reason your hip is sore is not because of the bursa, it is because the muscle and tendon surrounding it has been working harder than it can handle.

So what can you do about it?

In the short term, so settle down the irritation, it can be useful to avoid certain positions that increase pain, such as crossing your legs when sitting, or laying on your side in bed. These positions add a little bit of compression to the painful area, but will not cause you any further damage! Once you get back normal, these positions will be fine to return to.

To fix the cause of the issue, you need to get the muscle and tendon stronger to handle more load. To do this, we would prescribe some strengthening exercises for those muscles such as clamshells or resisted hip abduction movements (pulling leg out to the side). Start with something manageable, that doesn’t flare up pain, and slowly build up to doing harder and heavier exercises, until you can handle all the activities you need to, without running into pain!

If you want some guidance for how to progress your strength slowly, use the link below to book an appointment with any one of our knowledgeable physios!

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