What is Hip Bursitis?

Hip bursitis is the inflammation of one or more of the bursas located in the hip. Bursas are gel-like sacs that are located throughout the body and function to reduce the friction between the soft tissue and bones surrounding a joint. If a bursa becomes inflamed or irritated, pain will be caused whenever the muscle moves over the bone. Hip pain is most frequently caused by hip bursitis.

The hip has two major bursas; if either becomes inflamed, bursitis will occur resulting in pain and limited hip mobility. One bursa is located over the trochanter, or the bony part of the hip. The trochanter serves as an attachment point for muscles that flex the hip. If this bursa becomes irritated, there will be a dull, burning pain on the side of the hip making walking or climbing stairs difficult. Pressure on the affected side, such as from lying down to sleep, will also cause pain and wakefulness.

The second bursa, the ischial, is located in the upper buttock and forms a cushion over the bony part of the pelvis. An inflammation around this bursa causes both buttock and hip pain, usually in the form of numbness or tingling that extends down the leg. The symptoms will often be worse when sitting, especially on hard surfaces, or when climbing a hill.


Anyone can become affected by hip bursitis. Overuse of the hip joint from excessive running, walking, standing, or even just sitting for long periods of time can cause hip inflammation. Calcium deposits, bone spurs, a fall, or a previous hip surgery can contribute to developing bursitis. Sometimes the cause simply remains unknown.

A physical examination is necessary for a doctor to diagnose hip bursitis. The doctor typically will look for tenderness in the areas surrounding the bursas. Occasionally, additional tests such as x-rays may be needed to rule out other possible conditions or injuries that might have affected the bone and joints.

Hip bursitis may be treated in two ways: non-surgically or surgically. Non-surgical treatment focuses on controlling the hip inflammation caused by this condition. Rest, anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, icing the area of the bursa, or a cortisone injection may be prescribed.

Surgery on the hip to remove the inflamed bursa is rarely needed. Most people respond to the non-surgical treatments in about six weeks. Hip surgery is performed only after all non-surgical treatments generally have been exhausted.


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