Hip Bursitis
Hip bursitis illustration. Click to enlarge

Hip bursitis is a common cause of hip pain. Hip bursitis most commonly occurs when the large bursa on the outside of the hip, where the hip bone meets the thigh bone, becomes inflamed.

Often called the "great mimicker," hip bursitis symptoms are similar to those of other conditions, such as hip osteoarthritis and lower back pain.

What Is Hip Bursitis?

Hip bursitis tends to cause tenderness and pain on the outer side of the hip. As symptoms progress, pain may radiate down the outside of the thigh and occasionally to the buttock, groin and low back. A person with hip bursitis may find it painful to walk, climb up stairs, lie down on the side of the affected hip, or get out of a chair, especially after sitting for a long time.

Because the bursa is located at the part of the hip called the greater trochanter, other common terms for hip bursitis are Trochanteric Bursitis and Greater Trochanter Pain Syndrome.

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Researchers suspect that hip bursitis is often the result of another problem affecting the hip, such as a damaged tendon or muscle. For these reasons, some doctors use the umbrella term “Greater Trochanter Pain Syndrome” as a general description of chronic pain and tenderness at the side of the hip that may be caused by a myriad of conditions including - but not limited to - hip bursitis.

Trochanteric Bursa

The greater trochanter is the boney knob near the top and at the outside of the thighbone (femur).

The greater trochanteric bursa is located at the outward curve of the upper thigh. It provides a cushion and reduces friction between the boney knob and the large tendon and muscles that run over it and control hip movement.

Technically, there are several possible types of bursitis in the hip area. The two most common are:

    Trochanteric Bursitis
    The most common location of hip bursitis is in the trochanteric bursa. This bursa is located on the outside of the hip. It is susceptible to injury through a fall or other form of direct impact, causing the bursa to fill with blood (called a hematoma). The blood may irritate the bursa and cause inflammation. The hip bursa may also become swollen through repeated friction on the bursa that leads to inflammation and swelling of the synovial lining in the bursa.

    Iliopsoas Bursitis
    The iliopsoas bursa is located on the inside of the hip, under the iliopsoas muscle. If this bursa becomes irritated, the condition is called iliopsoas bursitis or iliopectineal bursitis. This condition is also generally referred to as hip bursitis. The main difference is that the pain is felt in the front of the hip and/or groin area.

  • See why the complex hip joint structure is susceptible to
    arthritic conditions in Hip Anatomy

Diagnosis and treatment for the two types of bursitis are similar. Since it is the most common form of hip bursitis, this article focuses mainly on trochanteric bursitis.

Septic Hip Bursitis

Septic hip bursitis, in which a bursa in the hip area is infected, is unusual but can be serious. People with septic hip bursitis will experience the same symptoms described above and may also feel tired, feverish, and generally ill, and may notice warmth and redness at the hip. Anyone with septic hip bursitis must seek medical attention and be treated with antibiotics to prevent the spread of infection to other points in the body or into the bloodstream.

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