Small containers of fluid are located throughout the body and are known collectively as bursae and individually as a bursa. Functioning much like a pillow or cushion, these containers of fluid are strategically located in the joints and around the ends of important bones like the elbow, knee, heel, and shoulder. Using the medical suffix “itis” to indicate that the tissue has become irritated, hip bursitis is the condition in which the bursae of the upper leg bone which makes contact with the hip are damaged and become tender and irritated.
Most cases of hip bursitis are the result of long-term damage to the underlying bursae. As the bursae become damaged from overuse, they can start to become irritated and tender. Some cases of hip bursitis occur after receiving a direct injury to the hip from violent interactions with an object, person, or the ground. Other cases of hip bursitis are the secondary effect of developing bone spurs, arthritis, or a curved spine.
Most sports injuries involving hip bursitis are inflicted on the bursae in the side of the hip due to violent strikes to the exterior of the hip and/or top of the leg. This type of injury is called trochanteric bursitis. Hip bursitis in non-athletes is usually to back side of the hip and is referred to as ischial bursitis.
Sports medicine experts have revealed that the most common type of activity associated with developing hip bursitis is training for marathons as overuse and pressure on the hip joint can result in irritation and inflammation of the bursae. Other vigorous activities with an increased risk of developing a hip bursitis injury include contact sports like hockey, rugby, lacrosse, and American football where players sometimes get a hard object crashing against the outside of the hip.
A number of secondary conditions can lead to an increased risk of developing hip bursitis. These may include:
Hip bursitis is usually diagnosed on the spot by laypersons and can be identified through a number of symptoms, including:
Hip bursitis is called acute if the symptoms appear for just a few hours or days. Hip bursitis is called chronic if it lasts for a really long time or continues to disappear and then re-appear.
Most of the time, cases of hip bursitis are self-diagnosed based on the known checklist of symptoms associated with this type of injury. In more severe cases, trained medical personnel may perform an MRI or X-ray scan in order to accurately diagnose the ailment.
Anyone with a case of hip bursitis is counseled to rest for a couple of days to allow the injury to begin to heal. The standard course of therapy is to apply cold to the site, as long as it is on the outside of the clothes, to the area for 5-15 minutes, repeated two to four times a day. To minimize tenderness and discomfort, people with hip bursitis can take an aspirin or ibuprofen. If the tenderness or discomfort remains severe, crutches can be used to help make walking less uncomfortable.
Once the discomfort has been reduced, the standard course of treatment for hip bursitis is a number of flexibility and strength-building movements.
For more egregious cases of hip bursitis, it may be necessary for a doctor to remove excess fluid from the injured bursa and/or inject the injured area with a drug to minimize tenderness and discomfort. Surgical intervention is only rarely appropriate and then only for the most severe cases of hip bursitis.