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What Is Trochanteric Bursitis?

What Is Trochanteric Bursitis?

Do you suffer from hip pain, and you are not sure what is causing it? Maybe you have a pressure point on your hip and you can’t quite explain the reason? 

Pain in the hip can be difficult to diagnose, as there are a number of reasons why it may occur. Trochanteric bursitis is one of them. 

Trochanteric bursitis is a condition of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac of soft tissue that lubricates various structural parts throughout the body. It is found near all the major joints in the body. Trochanteric bursitis occurs when the bursa becomes inflamed, causing pain and irritation in the patient. 

What Are The Causes Of Trochanteric Bursitis? 

There are two bursae in the hip. The greater trochanteric bursa aligns with the greater trochanter of the hip. It allows the iliotibial band to move across the prominent bones freely. The other bursa is called the iliopsoas bursa, located near the groin. 

Trochanteric bursitis is much more common though than iliopsoas bursitis. However, both conditions are diagnosed and treated the same way.

Inflammation and Damage

The condition is caused by inflammation and damage to the bursae, and those symptoms are caused by overuse, comorbid disease processes, or injury. The condition can happen to anyone, but it is more common in females and older patients. 

Pelvis and Hip Shape

Females are more likely to suffer from this condition because of the shape of their pelvis and hips. Some of the risk factors associated with the condition include cycling, stress from running, prolonged periods of standing, unequal leg lengths, lower back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, and prior hip surgery. 

Lower Back Pain

Of all the trochanteric bursitis causes, lower back pain seems to be connected to it the most. More specifically, degenerative disc disease often co-occurs with this condition. Pain from such conditions destabilizes and weakens the lumbar and pelvic musculature. This puts extra stress on the abductor muscles and causes an imbalance in the pelvis. The loss of stability in the hip tightens the iliotibial band, causing the trochanteric bursa to become irritated, which often causes bursitis. 

Hip Damage

Trochanteric bursitis can cause damage to the side of the hip and nearby areas. This leads to the tearing of abductor tendons. You can compare this effect to the way shoulder bursitis causes rotator cuff tears. Since this condition is complex and goes from bursitis to abductor tendonitis and eventually leads to abductor tearing, the general term for the condition is Great Trochanteric Pain Syndrome. 

What are the Symptoms of Trochanteric Bursitis? 

Trochanteric bursitis is identified by pain and inflammation in and around the site of the inflamed bursae. The pain usually occurs on the lateral and outer parts of the hip. This is also the site where the iliotibial (IT) band rubs against the side of the greater trochanter. 

Sufferers define the pain as sharp and localized but often leads to a constant, dull ache across the larger hip area. The pain is often worse at night because patients lie on the affected hip. It is also worse when elevating from a seated position and when walking upstairs. 

Hip bursitis can lead to functional issues, such as gait problems and worsening accompanying back pain. 

How is Trochanteric Bursitis Diagnosed and Treated?

Physical Examination

Your physician will perform a comprehensive physical examination, which includes a discussion of your family and medical history. Your physician will also evaluate your range of motion, and your anatomical sites of the hip bursae will be palpated (pressed firmly). This will determine your level of tenderness. 

Diagnostic Testing

Your physician may order additional diagnostic tests in some cases. These tests may include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or X-rays. These tests will aid your physician in visualizing the bone and soft tissue structures of the hip. These tests, along with your medical history, will help diagnose bursitis. 

Non-Operative Changes

The treatment for hip bursitis is typically non-operative. It includes activity changes and physical therapy that enhances flexibility and hip strength. Numbing and steroid injections may also be used to treat immediate pain relief and sometimes even long-lasting relief. 


When conservative treatments fail, patients often need surgical intervention to obtain relief from the pain. The surgical procedure consists of removing the bursa with an arthroscopic approach. The hip can function fine without the bursa because it is a vestigial structure. The iliotibial band is often lengthened to prevent future symptoms. 

Let Us Help With Your Orthopaedic Needs

At Thunder Basin Orthopaedics, we specialize in orthopedic surgery and sports medicine. We are based in Gillette, WY, and we have been serving the community and surrounding areas for many years. Our highly experienced surgeons and staff are here to help you with all of your orthopedic concerns. 

Don’t suffer in silence any longer. Please contact us today to book an appointment and start your journey toward healing and recovery.