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Greater trochanteric bursitis

Introduction

Greater trochanteric bursitis isn’t technically a hip problem because it doesn’t involve the joint, as would arthritis, loose bodies, labral tears or other issues that can affect the joint proper. Instead, greater trochanteric bursitis, known as, lateral hip pain or trochanteric bursitis, involves the small, jelly-like sacs called bursa.

They become irritated and inflamed, resulting in localized pain over the bony prominence of the hip, called the greater trochanter. This pain is initially localized to the lateral portion of the thigh, especially when lying on that side.

Risk factors and Prevalence 

Greater trochanteric bursitis can affect anyone but is more common in women and middle-aged or elderly people.

The following risk factors have been associated with hip bursitis:

  • Repetitive stress (overuse) injury. Frequent walking, hiking, stair climbing and bicycling for long periods of time causes the Gluteus muscle and iliotibial (IT) band to rub against the greater trochanter, inflaming the bursa.
  • Hip Injury. An injury to the greater trochanter from a direct injury or prolonged pressure on one side (camping) may cause hip bursitis.
  • Previous surgery. Surgery around the hip can irritate the bursa.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Weight loss

Symptoms

The most common symptom is pain in your outer thigh and hip area. Many people find this pain to be a deep pain which may be aching or burning. The pain may become worse over time.

Typically, the pain is worse at night, when lying on the affected hip or while getting up from a chair after being seated for a while. It can also get worse with prolonged walking, stair climbing or squatting. You may find that you walk with a limp.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis is usually made based on your symptoms and an examination by a professional physiotherapist at our clinic. They will usually examine your hip and legs. You may find it be to be very tender when your professional clinician presses over the area of the greater trochanter.

Tests (investigations) are not normally needed. However, tests might be necessary if our professional staff suspect that infection of the fluid-filled sac (bursa) is the cause (but this is rare). Tests may also be necessary if the diagnosis is not clear. For example, X-ray of hip, MRI may be needed.

Helpful tips

  • Avoid sitting with your legs crossed as this will reduce the pressure on the painful area.
  • Avoid sitting with your knees wide apart or close together.
  • When standing, try not to push one hip out to the side or stand on one leg.
  • Avoid very low chairs.
  • Keep active but avoid overdoing it.
  • Use a handrail when climbing the stairs if needed, or take one step at a time with your good leg leading going up and the sore leg leading coming down.

Self-management

Continue gentle exercise as best you can

Try to stay at work even if you must modify your duties slightly.

You can use cold as pain relief by wrapping an ice pack in a towel and pressing it against the affected area for up to 20 minutes. Check your skin every 5 minutes in case of damage.

Use of painkiller and anti-inflammatory medications can be used as advised by your pharmacist or GP.

Treatment

According to the diagnosis and findings our expert Physiotherapists can give you appropriate frequencies and dosages of exercise and will provide you manual therapy techniques to optimize healing of the damaged tissue and prevent re-injury while undergoing rehabilitation. You will be provided with a bespoke and progressive home exercise plan that will tailored towards helping you achieve the goals you will establish with your clinician.

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At Media City Physio we welcome the opportunity to treat you, regardless of your illness, which could be a result of a sport injury, accident at work, or anything else.