Close look on hip bursitis

The bursa is a small-sized sac that contains lubricating fluid found at different joints in the body. They function as shock absorbers and cushions between bones and the neighboring soft tissues. Once these sacs are irritated or inflamed, it is called bursitis. There are two main bursae in the hip joint – on the exterior tip of the hip and in the buttocks region. When it comes to hip bursitis, it frequently causes hip pain but more likely to occur among middle-aged and older adults than younger individuals.

How hip bursitis develops

Among athletes, hip bursitis often involves severe irritation of the bursa that is found under the iliotibial band. Due to friction, the pain is often felt in the front part of the hip instead of the exterior hip pain that affects non-athletes. In cases in which the exterior hip pain does not respond to treatment, the pain might originate from a different site such as the lower part of the spine.

Without considering the location, bursitis can develop when one or several bursa sacs are irritated and end up engorged due to trauma, poor posture, hip bone spurs, leg length differences and arthritis.

Who are at risk?

Those who are frequently affected by hip bursitis include distance runners. These individuals seem to face a higher risk to develop the condition than other athletes. It is important to note that hip bursitis is uncommon in other sports. On the other hand, those who play hockey and football who are likely to end up with blows to the hip might develop hip bursitis.

Hip bursitis

Those who are frequently affected by hip bursitis include distance runners.

What are the signs and symptoms?

  • There is pain at the exterior point of the hip that can extend down to the exterior of the thigh muscles.
  • The hip pain during the early stages is described as intense and piercing. As for the later stages, it is an achy pain that covers a wider area.
  • Hip pain that is worse at night time when the individual lies on the side of the damaged hip and when standing up from a chair.
  • Tenderness to the touch
  • Increasing pain when the individual walks long distances, squatting and climbing stairs.

Initial treatment

  • The application of ice packs helps minimize the discomfort. Apply an ice pack or cold compress for 15-20 minutes every session at 3-4 times throughout the day.
  • The individual should avoid or limit any form of physical activity that triggered the pain for 2-3 days.
  • Pain medications such as acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen can be given to reduce the pain and inflammation.
  • Crutches can be used if the pain makes walking difficult.


The individual is recommended to wear athletic shoes that provide adequate cushioning in the soles as well as side-to-side support.

Protective padding should also be used to prevent hip injuries that can lead to the development of bursitis. In addition, the individual should also avoid or limit running on banked surfaces.



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