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Trochanteric bursitis

Trochanteric bursitis - also known as greater trochanteric pain syndrome - is a common hip syndrome that causes pain and tenderness at the bony, outside point of the hip, known as the greater trochanter. It happens when the sac of fluid (the trochanteric bursa), located between the hip and the muscles and tendons of the thighs, becomes inflamed. This is about three times more common in women than in men and is most common in middle aged or elderly women, rather than young people.

Trochanteric bursitis causes

Trochanteric bursitis can be caused by:

  • Inflammation
  • Overuse
  • Physical trauma to muscles, tendons
  • Prolonged pressure on the bursa
  • Activities that require twisting or fast joint movement, such as jogging or cycling
  • Previous hip surgery
  • Bad posture
  • Hip bone spurs or calcium deposits

Other conditions

Trochanteric bursitis is often seen alongside other conditions such as arthritis of the hip, low back pain, disc disease of the low back, iliotibial band syndrome, fibromyalgia, thyroid disease and osteoarthritis of the knee. Conditions like gout can also increase your risk.

Trochanteric bursitis symptoms

People with trochanteric bursitis may have a number of symptoms including:

  • Sharp or burning hip pain and tenderness
  • Buttock pain that spreads to outer thigh and knee
  • Pain with activities such as walking, getting out of a deep chair or sitting cross-legged
  • Pain that disturbs sleep
  • Pain when pressing on outside of hip
  • Limping
  • Swelling
  • Soreness and redness

Symptoms related to other conditions should be ruled out, such as:

  • Sports hernia
  • Joint and bone conditions, such as arthritis
  • Neurological conditions such as lumbar nerve root compression

Trochanteric bursitis diagnosis

Your GP will ask about your medical history. Diagnosis may also include:

Trochanteric bursitis prevention

Most cases of trochanteric bursitis are caused by overuse, so prevention is a good strategy. Here are a few precautions:

  • When carrying out certain activities or exercises, take it slowly and build up to your goal
  • Limit force and repetitions
  • Stop straight away if exercise hurts
  • Avoid unnecessary or repetitive strain on hips
  • Lose weight if appropriate
  • Wear support shoes
  • Stretch and work on strength and flexibility of hips
  • Use aids such as a walking stick or crutches if needed.

Treatment for trochanteric bursitis

Most cases of trochanteric bursitis improve without treatment within several weeks.

In some cases, home treatment is recommended, such as:

  • Rest
  • Icing 10-20 minutes, several times a day
  • Stretching exercises
  • Anti-inflammatory medicine to reduce pain and swelling

In some cases, weight loss may be advised as well as avoiding long periods standing, running upstairs or other strenuous activity. A walking stick may help along with arch support in shoes to reduce pressure on the affected leg.

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