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Understanding Trochanteric Bursitis

A bursa is a thin, slippery, sac-like film. It contains a small amount of fluid. This structure is found between bones and soft tissues in and around joints. A bursa cushions and protects a joint. It keeps parts of a joint from rubbing against each other. If a bursa becomes inflamed and irritated, it's known as bursitis.

The trochanteric bursa is found on the hip joint. It lies on top of the bump at the top of the thighbone called the greater trochanter. Inflammation of this bursa is called trochanteric bursitis.

Front view of hip joint showing trochanteric bursa.

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Causes of trochanteric bursitis

Causes may include:

  • Overuse of the hip during running or other sports, dance, or work

  • Falling on or irritation to the side of the hip

This condition may occur along with other problems, such as osteoarthritis of the hip or knee, or low back problems. In rare cases, it may occur after hip surgery.

Symptoms of trochanteric bursitis

  • Pain or aching on the side of the hip. It's often felt as a sharp, intense pain. The pain may travel down the leg.

  • Swelling, tenderness, or warmth on the side of the hip at the bony bump at the top of the thigh

Treatment for trochanteric bursitis

These may include:

  • Resting the hip. This allows the bursa to heal.

  • Prescription or over-the-counter pain medicines. These help reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain. NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are the most common medicines used. Medicines may be prescribed or bought over the counter. They may be given as pills. Or they may be put on the skin as a gel, cream, or patch.

  • Cold packs and heat packs. These help reduce pain and swelling.

  • Stretching and strengthening exercises. These improve flexibility and strength around the hip.

  • Physical therapy. This includes exercises or other treatments.

  • Injections of medicine into the bursa. This may help reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms. The medicine is usually a corticosteroid. This is a strong anti-inflammatory medicine.

Possible complications

If you don’t give your hip time to heal, the problem may not go away, may return, or may get worse. Rest and treat your hip as directed.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your provider

  • Chills

  • Redness, swelling, or warmth that gets worse

  • Symptoms that don’t get better with prescribed medicines, or get worse

  • New symptoms

Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Turley Jr PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer: Stacey Wojcik MBA BSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Thomas N Joseph MD
Date Last Reviewed: 5/1/2022
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.