Trochanteric bursitis: symptoms, causes and treatments

Trochanteric bursitis is a common hip problem that affects the outside of the hips, causing pain, soreness and inflammation. It can affect patients of all ages, but is more common amongst women and the elderly.

The condition occurs when the trochanteric bursa – the soft tissue between your bones, muscles and tendons – becomes inflamed.

Trochanteric bursitis symptoms

Trochanteric bursitis is a chronic (long-lasting) condition, and symptoms tend to gradually develop overtime. It can affect one or both hips.

Symptoms include pain around the outside of the hips and buttocks. This could feel like general tenderness, a sharp pain or a burning sensation. You might find the pain get worse after walking or exercise. Some individuals also experience pain during the night, which can disrupt their sleep.

Other symptoms include a limp; a loss of balance; soreness; and swelling.

If you experience any of these symptoms, rest the joint as much as you can. You can also take an anti-inflammatory such as Ibuprofen to help reduce any inflammation. If your symptoms don’t improve within a few days, make an appointment to see your GP.

The causes of trochanteric bursitis

Trochanteric bursitis often develops without any history of injury. It’s a secondary condition, which means it’s occurring as a result of another condition. It’s therefore important to determine the source of the problem before it can be effectively treated.

The bursa is usually inflamed because of a problem with the muscle or bone. In many cases, it’s caused by a damaged or weakened muscle, which can be the result of a sprain or general wear and tear. Arthritis of the hip joint can also affect the surrounding muscles and in turn cause the onset of trochanteric bursitis.

Other causes include a tilted pelvis and bone spurs – bony lumps that can grow around joints. The condition can also occur following a hip replacement – you’ll be able to read more about this in our next blog article.

To correctly diagnose your condition and identify a cause, your GP will refer you to an orthopaedic surgeon such as Mr Nirav Shah for an assessment. Alternatively, you can contact us directly to arrange a private consultation without a GP referral.

During your consultation, Mr Shah will carry out a clinical examination and, if necessary, take X-Rays, an MRI and/or a CT scan.

Trochanteric bursitis treatments

Cortisone injections can help to relieve the symptoms of trochanteric bursitis, reducing any pain and inflammation. However, they won’t treat the root cause and within time the pain will return.

Around 80% of cases can be treated through targeted physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and improved posture. If this doesn’t help symptoms, surgery may be required to repair the muscle.

Mr Shah specialises in muscle repair surgery and he is currently the most experienced consultant providing this treatment within the University Hospital Sussex NHS Foundation Trust. The operation itself can often be carried out as a day case.

Following surgery, you’ll require physiotherapy to build up your muscle strength. You should be able to carry out most of your everyday activities within three weeks to three months. However, it can take up to 18 months to fully benefit from the results of your treatment.


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