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What is Trochanteric Bursitis?

By Alex Terris
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Trochanteric bursitis is a condition that causes pain on the outside of the hip. The problem occurs when the trochanteric bursa becomes inflamed, which leads to friction and pain during movement of the joint. Trochanteric bursitis can be caused by a number of factors including a direct blow to the bursa or repetitive movements. Symptoms include pain in the greater trochanter area, although over time this can become a more general pain in chronic sufferers.

A bursa is a small sack of fluid that helps to lubricate joints in the body during movement. There are bursa located in many joints including the knee and hip. When a bursa becomes inflamed, it swells up causing the joint to put pressure on it during movement. This results in pain that can range from mild to severe depending on how bad the condition is.

There are a range of different potential causes for trochanteric bursitis. The most common is through inflammation of the bursa that occurs when the joint is used in a repetitive motion. This is also known as a repetitive strain injury. A direct blow can also cause the bursa to become inflamed as well as infections. Surgery to the area may leave behind scar tissue that can cause bursitis to occur over time.

Symptoms of trochanteric bursitis include pain during movement, difficulty walking and pain when lying on the side. In many cases, the pain may get worse rather than better over time if the underlying problem isn’t solved. People with chronic trochanteric bursitis will often find that the pain begins to spread away from the exact point of the bursa.

Treatment for trochanteric bursitis starts with accurately diagnosing the problem. There are several conditions that can cause similar symptoms that need to be ruled out before treatment can begin. A physical examination will often be required and X-rays may be used to differentiate between bursitis and other potential problems such as tendinitis.

The most effective way to treat trochanteric bursitis is to rest the joint and use anti-inflammatory medicine to help control the swelling. Physical therapy is often used to treat the underlying problem that caused excess pressure to be put in the bursa. In some cases massage may also be performed although this needs to be used with care in order to prevent more swelling. Cortisone is sometimes used in the worst cases to reduce swelling.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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