Trochanteric Bursitis

In order to understand this condition, it is important to understand the anatomy and function of the hip. Please read Hip Pain Info’s section on the anatomy of the hip.

What is a bursa?

A bursa is a small sac that usually contains a small amount of fluid. It acts as a cushion between bones and softer tissues such as muscles and tendons. A bursa also reduces the friction between bones and these tissues.

What is the trochanteric bursa?

The trochanteric bursa is the bursa that is located at the outer part of the hip, often referred to as the “point” of the hip. The part of the thigh bone (femur) that forms the “point” of the hip is called the greater trochanter. The trochanteric bursa acts as a cushion between the greater trochanter and the overlying muscles and tissues.

What is trochanteric bursitis?

Trochanteric bursitis is the term used to describe irritation (inflammation) of the trochanteric bursa. When the bursa is irritated it can become larger and fill with more fluid.

What does trochanteric bursitis feel like?

Trochanteric bursitis is a common cause of hip pain. The pain is felt over the outer part of the hip. Once the bursa is irritated the pain can be made worse by overuse activities or by direct pressure on the bursa.

How do people get trochanteric bursitis?

Trochanteric bursitis has been associated with the following:

  • Repetitive or overuse activities such as running, cycling or stair climbing.
  • Direct injury to the trochanteric bursa such as falling and hitting the “point” of the hip on the ground or on ice, bumping the trochanteric bursa on a table edge or putting pressure on the trochanteric bursa by lying on one side for long periods of time.
  • Bone spurs on the greater trochanter or calcium deposits inside the trochanteric bursa.
  • Leg length differences, scoliosis or other structural problems that affect the way people walk.
  • Previous surgery to the hip such as total hip replacement surgery or surgery to fix a broken hip.
  • Arthritic conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis.

The trochanteric bursa can become irritated in anyone even if they do not have any of the above conditions. In general, trochanteric bursitis is more common in women, middle aged people and in older people.

What is the treatment for trochanteric bursitis?

The treatment for trochanteric bursitis depends on the cause and the severity of the bursitis. Treatment may include stretching exercises, strengthening exercises, anti-inflammatory medications, rest from aggravating activities or modifying activity. Ultrasound or heat/cold therapy may also be effective. In some cases a cortisone injection may be required to help decrease the pain and inflammation. Finally, people who do not improve with conservative measures may benefit from surgery. Doctors and Physical Therapists that deal with people with trochanteric bursitis can help outline a treatment program.

What other information is available on trochanteric bursitis?

Hip Pain Info’s links section has additional information on osteonecrosis of the hip. Links have been provided to other websites as well as online medical journals. Visit Joint Pain Info for information on other joint injuries and problems.