Your hip joint is one of the largest and strongest joints in your body. But like most body parts, your hip can take a beating which may cause you to feel pain. Bursitis is a painful condition affecting the bursae, or the small, fluid-filled sacs that cushion the bones and soft tissues near your joints.
This condition commonly occurs in the hip, elbow, knee, heel, and shoulder. So if you feel a sharp pain anywhere between the point of your hip to the outside of your thighs, you might be suffering from hip bursitis or inflammation of the bursae.
When your hip bursa gets inflamed, the affected joint may look swollen and feel stiff or achy. The pain is sharp and intense at first, and it hurts more when you move or press on the joint. Later, the pain feels more like an ache as the pain spreads across a larger area of the hip.
Managing hip bursitis is not as easy as it seems, especially if you don’t know its root causes. Let’s take a closer look at the possible culprits behind your pelvic discomfort.
What Causes Hip Bursitis?
While hip bursitis can affect anyone, it is more common among women and middle-aged people. Age is one of the most common risk factors for hip bursitis. As you age, the structure of your bones, tendons, and ligaments may change or wear out naturally, putting your joints at risk of being injured or inflamed.
Another risk factor that triggers hip bursitis is your occupation or hobby. If the things you do for work or leisure require repetitive movements that put pressure on your bursae, your risk of developing hip bursitis increases.
Some underlying conditions that cause bursitis include:
Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI)
This type of physical injury is a result of awkward movements and repetitive activities that put pressure on your joints. This can occur when you’re running, climbing, typing, or lifting, kneeling, or standing for prolonged periods. RSI symptoms include pain, stiffness, cramps, and muscle fatigue.
Banging your hip on a hard surface, falling on your hip, or lying on one side of your body for an extended period can injure your bursae and result in traumatic hip bursitis.
Uneven Leg Length
Also called anisomelia or leg length discrepancy (LLD), this condition is characterized by the unequal length of the lower extremity limbs. When one leg is significantly shorter than the other, it affects the way you move and walk. In turn, it could irritate your hip bursae.
Excess body weight can put excess strain on your joint and contribute to bursae changes that could trigger hip bursitis. After all, the heavier your body is, the more strain you put on your hips. In turn, it increases your chances of getting a hip injury or hip bursitis.
Unlike other types of arthritis, this chronic inflammatory disorder affects the lining of your joints.
When this happens, it causes a painful swelling that eventually results in joint deformity and bone erosion. This disorder occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your body tissues, irritating the bursae and increasing the risk of hip bursitis.
This condition is another form of inflammatory arthritis that is very painful. Symptoms include sudden, severe attacks of pain, swelling, and tenderness in your joints. While it typically affects the joint at the base of your big toe, gout can also affect your bursae and cause hip bursitis.
How to Treat Hip Bursitis
Mild hip bursitis usually goes away over time. If the pain you feel is somehow bearable, the best move is to perform self-care measures. You can also ease your symptoms and see if the pain subsides on its own. If there’s no improvement and the pain begins to affect your daily activities, then it’s time to seek medical attention.
Treatment typically involves resting the affected joint and protecting it from further trauma. In most cases, bursitis pain goes away within a few weeks with proper treatment but recurrent flare-ups of bursitis are common.
Consult your doctor if you’re experiencing:
- Disabling joint pain
- Sudden inability to move a joint
- Excessive swelling, redness, bruising or a rash in the affected area
- Sharp or shooting pain, especially when you exercise or exert yourself
- A fever
- Pain that interferes with your normal day-to-day activities
- Soreness that doesn’t improve despite self-care measures
- Recurrence of bursitis
While not all types of bursitis can be prevented, you can reduce your risk and the severity of flare-ups by changing the way you do certain tasks. After all, many people with hip bursitis can experience relief with simple lifestyle changes. Don’t let any physical discomfort stand in the way of your work and personal life. Here are some tips on how to treat hip bursitis pain:
Apply ice packs on the affected area
Apply ice packs or cold compress to your sore hip every four hours for 20 to 30 minutes. The coldness numbs the affected area, which helps alleviate the pain and reduce swelling and inflammation.
Take anti-inflammatory medications
Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or over-the-counter medications can help relieve symptoms of hip bursitis. Your doctor may prescribe narcotic pain relief, muscle relaxers, or antidepressants depending on your level of pain. However, it’s important to take medication cautiously. Some NSAIDs may have adverse side effects and cause complications like ulcers and stomach bleeding.
Get cortisone shots
Since hip bursitis is a result of an inflamed bursa, getting cortisone shots can significantly relieve symptoms of hip bursitis. With a single injection to the bursa, this anti-inflammatory medication may provide temporary or permanent relief from hip bursitis. If the pain and inflammation return, another shot or two, given a few months apart, may be needed. However, it’s important to limit the number of cortisone shots you get as it may damage the tissues surrounding your bursae.
Use assistive devices
Assistive devices such as a brace or walking crane may be recommended to help improve your range of movement when managing hip bursitis.
Modify your activities
Typically, pain from hip bursitis is worse at night, especially when lying on the affected hip and getting up after being seated for a while. It can also get worse with prolonged and repetitive activities, so modifying your movements is a must for your recovery. If your job or hobby requires a lot of lifting, remember to bend your knees to avoid putting extra stress on your hip bursae.
Whether you have a desk job or a field job, it’s important to take frequent breaks and walk around to relieve muscle tension. Take rests between repetitive tasks or do other activities in between. Mind how you move and follow good posture techniques while you’re sitting, standing, lifting objects, and sleeping to relieve pressure on your hips.
Maintain your ideal weight
Maintain your ideal weight or consider dropping some pounds if you’re overweight. This is a sure way of taking pressure off your hips and minimizing the risk for developing hip bursitis.
Perform hip bursitis exercises
Exercise is vital to keeping your joints healthy and less prone to injury. The more you stay active, the more your body releases endorphins, which are your brain’s natural painkillers. This helps facilitate a quicker healing process.
Regular exercise can protect your affected joint, increase your range of motion, and decrease your chances of getting hip bursitis. The golden rule is to warm up and stretch before exercising or doing any strenuous activities to avoid injury.
We recommend incorporating these hip bursitis exercises in your routine to help with the pain and reduce the risk of pelvic discomfort:
- Hip bridges – Also called glute bridges, this exercise engages your hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and pelvis. This supports your hip joints and opens up your hip flexors, making it the perfect exercise for improving hip strength.
- Lying lateral leg raises – This exercise works your gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, and quadriceps. Since pain from hip bursitis usually travels down your thighs, doing lateral leg raises while lying down will help enhance the stability and strength of your hip joints.
- Lying leg circles – This exercise engages your hip flexors, quadriceps, and gluteal muscles. Performing leg circles while lying down will help promote flexibility, strength, and range of motion in all of the small muscles. As a result, you can easily rotate your hips and legs.
Your doctor may recommend exercises to increase hip strength and flexibility. You may do these exercises on your own, or a physical therapist may teach you how. You may also use other treatments such as rolling therapy (massage) or hot and cold therapy. An expert therapist can give you exercises to improve flexibility and strengthen your muscles.
Physical therapy is focused on the structure of the body to relieve hip bursitis pain and allow you to better manage your condition. This involves exercise movements that increase hip strength and flexibility, strengthen the hip joints, and reduce pressure on your hip bursae. This alternative treatment also includes massage therapy. This type of treatment involves the application of motion, pressure, tension, or vibration to your body to relieve pressure and pain on your nerves.
Chiropractors perform adjustments and exercises that can help treat conditions like hip bursitis. They focus on the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions through therapeutic manipulation. Instead of relying on shots and painkillers, getting chiropractic care is a great alternative to relieving hip bursitis. This holistic approach to treatment works best when combined with proper exercise and relaxation techniques.
Partner with LifeClinic for Your Recovery
Get long-term relief from your pelvic discomfort by partnering with LifeClinic for your recovery. We offer chiropractic and rehabilitation services that will restore, maintain, and optimize human function. Find a LifeClinic location near you today.