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Hip Bursitis

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 6, 2022.

What is hip bursitis?

Hip bursitis is inflammation of the bursa in your hip. The bursa is a fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between a bone and a tendon. A tendon is a cord of strong tissue that connects muscles to bones.

Normal Hip Joint

What increases my risk for hip bursitis?

  • An injury, such as a fall
  • Bacterial infection
  • Constant pressure on your hips, such as when you stand or sit on hard surfaces for long periods of time
  • Overuse of your hips, such as when you run, climb stairs, or ride a bike
  • Medical conditions, such as scoliosis, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout
  • Leg length is not the same
  • Bone spurs or calcium that builds up in certain areas of bone and irritate the bursa
  • Past surgeries, such as hip joint replacement

What are the signs and symptoms of hip bursitis?

  • Pain on the side of your hip or at the base of your hips when you sit down
  • Decreased movement or stiffness of your hip
  • Crunching or popping when you move your hip
  • Redness or swelling of the skin on your hip

How is hip bursitis diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine your hip and ask about your injury or activities. You may need any of the following:

  • Blood tests may be used to check for signs of infection. Healthcare providers may also check for diseases that may be causing your bursitis, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
  • X-ray or MRI pictures may show bone position problems, arthritis, or a fracture. You may be given contrast liquid to help your knee show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • A fluid culture means healthcare providers use a needle to drain fluid from your bursa. The fluid will be sent to a lab and tested for infection. Removal of bursa fluid may also help relieve your symptoms.

How is hip bursitis treated?

  • Medicines:
    • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
    • Aspirin helps relieve pain and swelling. Take aspirin exactly as directed by your healthcare provider.
    • Antibiotics help fight an infection caused by bacteria.
    • Steroids help relieve pain and swelling. Steroid injections are given directly into the painful area. Steroid pills may be given for a short time.
  • Surgery may be needed to remove your bursa or part of your elbow bone. Surgery is only done when other treatments do not work.

How can I manage hip bursitis?

  • Rest your hip as much as possible to decrease pain and swelling. Slowly start to do more each day. Return to your daily activities as directed. You may be able to use a cane or other device to take pressure off the hip as you walk.
  • Apply ice to help decrease swelling and pain. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover the bag with a towel before you place it on your elbow. Apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes, 3 to 4 times each day, as directed.
  • Do not lie on your injured hip. You may be more comfortable if you sleep on your stomach or back.
  • Go to physical therapy, if directed. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.

How can I prevent hip bursitis?

  • Do not overuse your hips. Shorten the time you spend running, climbing stairs, or riding a bike. Take breaks as you do these activities. Try not to do the same activities each day. For example, run every other day or every 3 days instead of daily.
  • Stretch, warm up, and cool down. Always stretch and do warmup and cool-down exercises before and after you exercise. This will help loosen your muscles and decrease stress on your hips. Rest between workouts.
  • Wear proper shoes. Wear shoes that fit properly and support your feet. You may need to wear shoe inserts called orthotics. Orthotics help position your foot correctly as you walk or exercise.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your healthcare provider what a healthy weight is for you. Ask him or her to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
  • Keep pressure off your hips. Do not stand or sit for long periods of time. Sit on padded surfaces, such as a cushion or pad, whenever possible. Bend your knees when you pick up objects from the ground.

When should I call my doctor?

  • Your pain and swelling increase.
  • Your symptoms do not improve with treatment.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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