Summary of Trochanteric Bursitis
Trochanteric Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa on the outer part of the hip, caused by repetitive rubbing of the bursa by the tendons, for example during a high intensity and repetitive activity like running. The bursa, a small sac of fluid, is designed by the body to prevent friction occurring, but if this becomes inflamed, the result is a deep pain or ache over the hip and thigh.
Trochanteric Bursitis FAQ's
The small sac of fluid we now know as the bursa, is situated between the top of the thigh bone and the tendons of the buttock muscles. Its purpose is to prevent friction between two or more structures during movement. If this becomes inflamed and irritated, it results in the condition known as Trochanteric Bursitis.
The most common symptom is the deep pain or ache over the outside of the tip and outer thigh. Walking, running or climbing stairs can often aggravate the pain even more, making it worse, and some sufferers describe a clicking sensation in the hip as they move around. The condition can make even the simplest of everyday tasks and movements difficult, for example climbing in and out of a car.
Most patients with Trochanteric Bursitis return to normal within a matter of weeks, if the issue is understood and dealt with correctly. Rehabilitation may take longer in some cases for example those who have been long term sufferers of the condition, however with early intervention the recovery should be full and relatively speedy.
Trochanteric Bursitis is often associated with overuse of the gluteal muscles, for example during running, jumping or even walking. With the repeated friction from the muscles moving over the bursa, the bursa becomes irritated – thus causing the condition. Some clinicians may be able to identify exactly where the weakness is within the group of muscles surrounding the hip, pinpointing how these may be affecting the movement of the hip. A tightening in what is known as the Iliotibial Band – a long strap of fibre that runs from the bursa to the knee – is often implicated as a contributing factor to the problem as it can lead to a tightening of the hip flexors and hamstrings. Other causes may include biomechanical anomalies such as a flattened arch of the foot or a difference in leg lengths, as these factors can change the angle of the muscle pull and alter the alignment of the knee and hip. Direct injury may also be a cause of Trochanteric Bursitis, or anything that directly irritates the bursa – for example a hip replacement operation.
Home exercises are a vital part of strengthening the muscles in your hips and ensuring they regularly perform a full range of motion. A more hands-on treatment may be necessary depending on the extent of the issue, including stretching techniques and deep tissue massage therapy. If the problem is related to sports such as running, the clinician may like to review your training techniques, routes and plans, focussing on your footwear and running gait to identify any issues. If there is an issue in your foot alignment, for example the flattened arch we mentioned earlier, exercises may be required that strengthen the muscles in your foot. Orthotics may ease the problem by correcting the foot positioning. Anti-inflammatory medication, heat treatment and acupuncture may also be prescribed to deal with the pain.
The exercises are prescribed to stretch and strengthen the muscles, easing the pressure that is placed on the trochanteric bursa and thus alleviating the risk of inflammation. These stretches will gradually relieve you of your symptoms, however it is important they are performed correctly and regularly if you want to make a full recovery.