5 Things You Need to Know About Hip Bursitis

Identify Arthritis vs. Bursitis

Bursitis, arthritis, what's the difference? Bursitis is inflammation of the bursa, a sac that contains fluid to lubricate the joints. The bursa reduces the friction of bones on muscles, and helps the bone glide smoothly. Arthritis is an inflammation of the connective tissue covering the joints and bones from injury or wear and tear on the joints. Bursitis is the most common cause of hip pain, followed by arthritis. The main symptom of bursitis is pain at the point of the hip, or "hip pointers." The pain usually extends to the outer thigh and is worse at night if you lie on the bad hip. Initially the pain is sharp and severe, but may then become dull and achy.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

A complete physical exam will be done by the doctor, if he suspects you have hip bursitis. The doctor will ask about the type and duration of your pain and what makes it worse. The doctor may have you lie on your side so he can determine the origin of your pain. X-rays or a bone scan may be ordered to rule out any fracture or bone disease. An MRI may also be ordered to obtain the diagnosis.

Ease Hip Bursitis Pain

Rest and elevating the hip are recommended initially to reduce the inflammation of hip bursitis. NSAID's (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like over-the-counter aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen help to reduce the pain. Although rest is necessary at the onset, it isn't recommended that you stay in bed longer than a day. Restrict hip movement temporarily so healing can occur; use a cane or crutches for stability. After the initial stage of hip bursitis, your doctor may recommend physical therapy for strengthening exercises. Heat can be soothing for the bursitis and some doctors recommend ultrasound to warm deep tissues and improve blood flow. An injection of an anesthetic combined with a steroid is very effective when injected directly into the bursa. The injection is seldom needed more than once. Surgery is rarely used as a treatment for hip bursitis.

Avoid Certain Movements

Avoid direct pressure on the hip during a bout of hip bursitis. Bending at the hip continuously can also slow the healing process or cause a flare up of hip bursitis. Don't sleep on the hip with bursitis; sleep on your back or stomach. Avoid steps and step aerobics, rowing, squatting and sports that have sudden stops and starts (like tennis) until the hip bursitis has subsided. Avoid stretching exercises like touching your toes while you have hip bursitis. If you have to sit at work, avoid slumping and sitting for extended periods.

Can I Prevent It?

Well, probably not. But you can prevent a reoccurrence or at least limit the severity of hip bursitis and the length of time to recover. Make sure you warm up before exercising, and exercise to strengthen the hips and increase flexibility.