Hip Bursitis: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

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Small jelly-like sacs (called bursae) lie between joints and tissue, acting as cushions to reduce friction. Bursitis occurs when a bursa becomes inflamed, causing intense pain. Hip bursitis symptoms begin at the point of the hip. While lying on the opposite side of the pain, the point of the hip becomes noticeable. Finding the hip point and radius of pain helps the doctor to diagnose the condition. This condition affects more women than men and is more common in individuals that are middle-aged to elderly.


Symptoms of hip bursitis usually begin with sharp intense pain at the point of the hip. This is caused from inflammation of the trochanteric bursa that is the location of the hip point. The ischial bursa is pinpointed at the upper buttock. Either bursa can create symptoms such as pain and stiffness in the joint.

Patients complain that it is more severe at night while lying on the afflicted side or when rising from a chair after rest. Pain increases with walking, squatting or climbing stairs.

Bursitis pain will spread to the area surrounding the hip joint. It feels more like a toothache as opposed to the sharp pain experienced at onset.

The hip may feel warm at the site of the pain and be tender to the touch. Resting for any length of time or riding in a car on a long trip will cause the pain to increase and make it difficult to walk.

Some patients have reported that pain moves to the lower back and groin. Because the bursa is inflamed, it can affect the surrounding tissue and cause symptoms that spread to a wider area such as down the side of the leg.


There are many causes to consider when diagnosing hip bursitis. Understanding the cause can assist with individual treatment.

Injury can cause bursitis to develop such as falling on the point of the hip, lying on one side for long periods or just bumping the hip on the corner of a table. Another injury to consider is chronic overuse of the joint that occurs in stair climbing, bicycling, running or standing for hours.

Some causes result from other conditions like rheumatoid arthritis in the joint or scoliosis of the spine.


Simple treatments that can relieve symptoms of hip bursitis include restricting activity, walking with a cane, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroid injections into the hip joint.

On occasion, surgery is used to relieve the pain of bursitis when other treatments are not successful. During surgery the bursa is removed.


Avoiding the painful hip bursitis symptoms is not always easy. Injuries usually occur by accident and some conditions are beyond our control. Recognizing the symptoms early can help find relief. Use caution when taking NSAIDs (long term use should be avoided).

Seek medical attention if you suspect bursitis and limit activity until you receive a diagnosis.


American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons: Hip Bursitis


Mayo Clinic: Bursitis