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Hip Bursitis: The Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options

by Princeton Orthopaedic Associates

Hip Bursitis: The Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options

by Princeton Orthopaedic Associates

When it comes to the health of your hips, bursitis is not something you want to hear. But if you have ever experienced it, you know how much of a nuisance it can be. Bursitis is inflammation of one or more bursa—fluid-filled sacs located beneath your skin in certain spots, most notably around your hips. This condition can make even the simplest tasks extremely painful. Prolonged bursitis can even result in permanent damage. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help prevent bursitis from developing or coming back. But if you suspect that you have developed bursitis and are ready to take action to get rid of it for good, this article will help get you started on the right track. Here, you’ll learn about the common causes and symptoms of hip bursitis as well as various treatment options that might be right for you.

What Is Bursitis?

Bursitis is a form of arthritis that causes inflammation of the bursa. Bursa are small sacs of fluid — like miniature joints — that help cushion the joints and reduce friction and pain. Bursitis can occur in the shoulder, knee, hip and even the elbow. If the bursa becomes irritated and swollen, it can become a bursitis. People who do repetitive motions such as people who lift weights or who sit at a computer all day are at risk for bursitis. If you have an inflamed bursa, you may experience pain and swelling around the area where the bursa is located. The most common areas in which bursitis develops are the shoulder, elbow, knee and hips. Bursitis can also develop in your feet, which is referred to as plantar bursitis.

How Does Bursitis Happen?

Bursa are small pouches filled with fluid that sit between your muscles, tendons and bones. Some bursa help reduce friction between the bones and may be referred to as “dynamic” bursa, such as the ones found around the hips. While others are known as “static” bursa and are located near joints, helping to keep the bones from rubbing against each other. The buildup of pressure in this fluid-filled sac can cause inflammation, which is known as bursitis. Bursitis can be caused by a number of factors, including injury, overuse, infection or poor posture. You are most at risk for bursitis if you have a job that requires repetitive motions, such as manual labor or work on a computer, as well as those who participate in activities that require a lot of jumping or quick movements, such as sports or dancing.

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The Symptoms of Hip Bursitis

  • Pain or tenderness on or around the hip - Usually the outside portion of the hip or the upper portion of the buttocks is affected 
  • Swelling of the hip - Swelling may be present on the outside of the hip or may be visible inside the joint if a large amount of fluid has accumulated. 
  • Swelling of the surrounding muscles 
  • Limping or a change in walking pattern 
  • Decreased ability to raise the knee towards the chest 
  • Pain when lying down or rolling over in bed 
  • Pain when rising from a seated position 
  • Pain when walking up stairs or hills 
  • Pain when twisting or turning the hip 
  • Weakness or decreased strength of the muscles in the leg 
  • Decreased ability to lift objects

Possible Causes of Bursitis

The exact cause of bursitis is unknown, but it can develop when a sudden increase in pressure occurs within a bursa sac. This often happens when the bursa are overused or irritated. 

Common causes of bursitis include:

  • Repetitive motions - Whether it’s from sports, manual labor or a repetitive action from your daily life, repetitive motions that irritate the bursa can cause them to become inflamed. 
  • Injuries - Bursitis can develop following an injury, such as a fall or sprain, that causes an increase in pressure within the bursa. 
  • Infection - Infection can cause an increase in the pressure within a bursa, which can lead to inflammation. 
  • Poor posture - Bursitis can develop if you have poor posture and put added pressure on the bursa. 
  • Age - As you age, the bursa become less effective, which can lead to bursitis.
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Treatments for Hip Bursitis

Since bursitis is an inflammatory-based condition, treatment includes reducing inflammation by following a warm compress or ice pack routine while resting as much as possible. In addition, you may want to consider following a healthy diet and lifestyle to further help prevent the condition from recurring. 

  • Heat - Applying a warm compress to the affected area may help reduce inflammation and relieve pain by improving blood flow. This is best done for 15-20 minutes, two times per day, at a moderate heat level. 
  • Rest - While this may be difficult for those who are unable to work, resting is one of the most effective ways to decrease inflammation and speed up the healing process. 
  • Healthy Diet - While there are no specific foods that are proven to help with bursitis, following a healthy diet will help prevent many health conditions and promote general wellness. 
  • Exercises - Exercises that don’t irritate the bursa can be performed as part of the treatment plan. 
  • Medication - While bursitis is not an immediate emergency, you should see your doctor if you suspect you have this condition. If a doctor determines that you have bursitis, they will likely prescribe medication to help reduce inflammation, such as NSAIDs or corticosteroids.


Hip bursitis can be a painful condition that can make even the simplest activities difficult. Luckily, there are several things you can do to help prevent it or reduce its severity, such as following a healthy diet, exercising regularly and changing your posture. If you think you may have developed bursitis, you should see your doctor for treatment.

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