Should you stop exercise with bursitis, or work through the pain?

Dr Leisa

First I’d like to define 2 types of hip bursitis. Quick anatomy lesson, bear with me. The bones of the hip joint are, the femur bone, or commonly known as the thigh bone, and the ilium bone, or what most people refer to as the hip bone. The greater trochanter is the bony part of the femur, (thigh bone) that you can feel on the outside of your hip.

The hip joint has 2 capsules of jelly-like fluid near the greater trochanter. Each capsule is called a bursa, or bursae plural. These are called the trochanteric bursae. These bursae, and other bursae allow the hip to move in a smooth fluid motion. When they become inflamed, it is called trochanteric bursitis, or just hip bursitis. The other type of hip bursitis involves the ischial bursae. These cause pain at the base of the hips. From this point on, I’ll be discussing trochanteric bursitis, the most common type.

Now that we know the anatomical parts that are involved, we can discuss what happens, and what to do about it. The first and most common symptom is sharp pain at the outside of the hip at the trochanter. Chronic pain is an achy, deeper pain, usually felt at night while sleeping on the hips.

What causes bursitis? Overuse, arthritis, past surgery, an impact injury to the trochanter, scoliosis, or other spinal disease. Simple leg length changes can also cause bursitis. Most commonly, it is due to overuse of walking, running, or cycling in middle-aged women. Some athletes who lift weights by squatting or using the stair climber tend to suffer from this also. It is uncommon in younger people.

When a patient complains of outer hip pain, I start with an examination of the hip. This will involve palpation of the trochanter, and some additional orthopedic tests. I will also check their leg lengths. Sometimes a person is born with a short leg, but most of the time, it is caused because the hip bones are out of alignment. (An easy Chiropractic fix!) X-Rays or MRI may be ordered, but in most cases, the patient’s history and age will determine whether they will be necessary.

Treatment will begin with immediately stopping what causes the pain! DO NOT WORK THROUGH THE PAIN! IT WILL BECOME WORSE! Next, if there is a difference in leg length, Chiropractic adjustments will be done to correct that, provided it is not due to a congenital condition. If that is the case, a heel lift will be prescribed. Stretching is not an option, it’s a must. A stretching program will be given, once the pain has diminished a bit. Interferential current, ultrasound, and acupuncture are proven methods to reduce the inflammation and pain associated with bursitis. These therapies may be used in conjunction with natural anti-inflammatories, and a non-inflammatory diet. Together, they promote healing and de-inflame the body. Surgery to remove the bursa is rarely recommended. Conservative care works when the patient rests the body to give it time to heal and follows the stretching and treatment protocol recommended.

For anyone suffering from hip bursitis, please at least stop doing what causes it. Next, be sure and get an exam to rule out a short leg, or more serious cause. In most cases, it is an easy fix, and you can soon be back to your exercise routine as usual.

For any questions about my articles, please email or call.

Accurate Care Pain Relief Center
Leisa-Marie Grgula, D.C.
Chiropractic Physician
21043 N Cave Creek Rd. #A9
Phoenix, AZ 85024