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  • Writer's pictureAJ Kirkpatrick, PT, DPT

Managing Hip Bursitis: A Guide to Relief and Recovery

Hip bursitis is a common and often painful condition that affects many individuals, particularly those who engage in activities that involve repetitive motion or prolonged pressure on the hip joint. Whether you're an athlete, a fitness enthusiast, or simply someone who enjoys staying active, hip bursitis can disrupt your daily routine and limit your mobility. However, with the right approach to treatment and rehabilitation, you can effectively manage hip bursitis and get back to doing the things you love.

Understanding Hip Bursitis:

Before we delve into management strategies, let's first understand what hip bursitis is. Bursae are small, fluid-filled sacs that act as cushions between bones and soft tissues, helping to reduce friction and facilitate smooth movement. In the hip, there are several bursae, but the most commonly affected one is the trochanteric bursa, located on the outside of the hip.

Hip bursitis occurs when these bursae become inflamed, typically due to overuse, repetitive motion, trauma, or underlying conditions such as osteoarthritis. The inflammation can cause pain, tenderness, and swelling around the hip joint, making it uncomfortable to walk, climb stairs, or engage in activities that involve hip movement.

Managing Hip Bursitis:

  1. Rest and Activity Modification: One of the first steps in managing hip bursitis is to rest the affected hip and avoid activities that aggravate the symptoms. This may include avoiding high-impact exercises like running or jumping and modifying your daily activities to reduce pressure on the hip joint.

  2. Heat/Cold Therapy: Applying ice to the affected area can sometimes help reduce acute inflammation and alleviate the pain symptoms. Ice packs or cold therapy devices can be applied for 15-20 minutes several times a day, especially after activity or exercise. If the symptoms are bearable, hot packs can help improve healing times and flush old swelling away from the area to facilitate healing. Consult with your medical professional if you have questions on which to use.

  3. Anti-Inflammatory Medications: Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with hip bursitis. However, it's important to use these medications according to the recommended dosage and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

  4. Physical Therapy: Physical therapy plays a crucial role in the management of hip bursitis. A skilled physical therapist can develop a tailored exercise program to strengthen the muscles around the hip joint, improve flexibility, and correct any biomechanical issues that may contribute to bursitis. Modalities such as cold laser or therapeutic taping may also be used to alleviate symptoms and promote healing.

  5. Injection Therapy: In some worse cases, corticosteroid injections may be recommended to reduce inflammation and provide temporary relief of symptoms. These injections are administered directly into the affected bursa under ultrasound guidance by a qualified healthcare provider.

  6. Surgical Intervention: In rare cases where conservative treatments fail to provide relief, surgical intervention may be considered. This may involve bursectomy, which is the surgical removal of the inflamed bursa, or other procedures to address underlying issues contributing to bursitis.

Preventing Recurrence:

While managing hip bursitis is important, preventing its recurrence is equally crucial. Here are some tips to help prevent hip bursitis:

  • Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your activities to avoid overuse injuries.

  • Incorporate cross-training and vary your workout routine to reduce repetitive stress on the hip joint.

  • Maintain a healthy weight to reduce pressure on the hips and joints.

  • Ensure proper warm-up and cool-down before and after exercise to prepare the muscles and joints for activity and promote recovery.

  • Listen to your body and pay attention to any early signs of discomfort or pain, adjusting your activities accordingly.

Hip bursitis can be a challenging condition to manage, but with the right approach to treatment, rehabilitation, and prevention, you can find relief and get back to an active lifestyle. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan tailored to your individual needs. By taking proactive steps to care for your hips, you can minimize the impact of hip bursitis and enjoy improved mobility and quality of life.

If you're near the Mission Viejo area and think you, or someone you know, might benefit from physical therapy, or to get any questions answered, please don’t hesitate to reach out for a free consultation!

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