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Trochanteric Bursitis

Trochanteric bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa, which is a thin, slippery  film that sits between bones and soft tissue as a protection for joints. The trochanteric bursa is around the hip and can become inflamed by repetitive movement or by physical force.

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As the referral center for Greater Cincinnati and the region, the Sports Medicine & Concussion program provides top quality care for even the most complex musculoskeletal conditions. We customize treatment plans that use the most innovative, effective surgical and nonsurgical techniques to restore function, relieve pain for professional athletes, high school sports teams and anyone who leads an active lifestyle.

To schedule an appointment, please call the UC Health Sports Medicine & Concussion team at 513-475-8690.


Understanding Trochanteric Bursitis

A bursa is a thin, slippery, sac-like film. It contains a small amount of fluid. This structure is found between bones and soft tissues in and around joints. A bursa cushions and protects a joint. It keeps parts of a joint from rubbing against each other. If a bursa becomes inflamed and irritated, it's known as bursitis.

The trochanteric bursa is found on the hip joint. It lies on top of the bump at the top of the thigh bone called the greater trochanter. Inflammation of this bursa is called trochanteric bursitis.

Causes of trochanteric bursitis

Causes may include:

  • Overuse of the hip during running or other sports, dance, or work.

  • Falling on or irritation to the side of the hip.

This condition may occur along with other problems, such as osteoarthritis of the hip or knee, or low back problems. In rare cases, it may occur after hip surgery.

Symptoms of trochanteric bursitis

  • Pain or aching on the side of the hip. It's often felt as a sharp, intense pain. The pain may travel down the leg.

  • Swelling, tenderness, or warmth on the side of the hip at the bony bump at the top of the thigh.

How is bursitis diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your health history and do a physical exam. You may also need tests such as:

  • X-ray. This test uses energy beams to make pictures of internal tissues, bones, and organs on film.

  • MRI. This test uses large magnets, radio waves, and a computer to make detailed pictures of organs and structures within the body.

  • Ultrasound. This test that uses high-frequency sound waves to look at the internal organs and tissues.

  • Aspiration. For this test, the healthcare provider uses a thin needle to remove fluid from the swollen bursa. The fluid is checked for infection or gout as causes of bursitis.

Blood tests. Lab tests may be done to confirm or rule out other conditions.

Treatment for trochanteric bursitis

These may include:

  • Resting the hip. This allows the bursa to heal.

  • Prescription or over-the-counter pain medicines. These help reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain. NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are the most common medicines used. Medicines may be prescribed or bought over the counter. They may be given as pills. Or they may be put on the skin as a gel, cream, or patch.

  • Cold packs and heat packs. These help reduce pain and swelling.

  • Stretching and strengthening exercises. These improve flexibility and strength around the hip.

  • Physical therapy. This includes exercises or other treatments.

  • Injections of medicine into the bursa. This may help reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms. The medicine is usually a corticosteroid. This is a strong anti-inflammatory medicine.

What can I do to prevent bursitis?

Try the following measures to prevent bursitis:

  • Warm up before exercising or before sports or other repetitive movements.

  • Start new exercises or sports slowly. Gradually increase the demands you put on your body.

  • Take breaks often when doing repetitive tasks.

  • Cushion “at risk” joints by using elbow or knee pads.

  • Stop activities that cause pain.

  • Practice good posture. Position your body correctly when doing daily activities.

If you don’t give your hip time to heal, the problem may not go away, may return, or may get worse. Rest and treat your hip as directed by your healthcare provider.

When should I call my healthcare provider?

Call your healthcare provider if you have any of the following:

  • Pain or trouble moving that affects your regular daily activities.

  • Pain doesn’t get better or gets worse with treatment.

  • A bulge or lump develops at the affected joint.

  • Redness or swelling develops at the affected joint.

  • You have fever, chills, or night sweats.

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