Trochanteric Bursitis

Topic Overview

Bursitis is an inflammation of the small sacs of fluid (bursae) that cushion and lubricate the areas between tendons and bones. The trochanteric bursa is a large sac separating the greater trochanter of the hip and the muscles and tendons of the thighs and buttock. Bursitis can affect many of the bursae around the hip, but trochanteric bursitis is the most common. Trochanteric bursitis occurs more often in middle-aged or elderly women than in men or younger people.

Trochanteric bursitis can be caused by an acute injury, prolonged pressure on a bursa, or activities that require repeated twisting or rapid joint movement (such as jogging or bicycling long distances). These activities may lead to irritation or inflammation within the bursa. Trochanteric bursitis may occur together with disc disease of the low back or arthritis of the hip. It also may develop at the site of a previous hip surgery or occur along with iliotibial band syndrome. Conditions such as gout may also increase the risk for bursitis.

Symptoms of trochanteric bursitis may include:

  • Hip pain, and sometimes buttock pain that spreads down the outside of the thigh to the knee area. Pain may be worse during activities such as walking, running, or sitting cross-legged with the leg over the opposite knee. Pain may be severe enough at night that it disturbs your sleep.
  • Tenderness when you press on the affected area or lie on the affected side.
  • Limping.
  • Swelling from increased fluid within the bursa.
  • Redness and warmth (from inflammation or infection).

Home treatment for bursitis includes:

  • Rest.
  • Ice packs to the affected area.
  • Medicines to relieve pain and swelling.
  • Weight loss, to reduce pressure on the hip.
  • Exercises to strengthen the hip muscles.
  • Stretching exercises for the hip and lower back.
  • Avoiding prolonged standing and the activity that causes pain.
  • Using a cane or crutches to reduce pressure on the hip.
  • Using a lift in your shoe, to reduce pressure on the hip if one leg is shorter than the other.

If home treatment does not relieve pain from bursitis, medical treatment such as lidocaine or steroid injections into the trochanteric bursa may help.

Warmth and redness in the area may be a sign of infection, which may require evaluation by your doctor. Surgery is rarely needed.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last Revised August 1, 2012

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