Bursitis is an inflammatory condition that arises due to swelling up of the bursa. The structure of bursa can be described as a small sac filled up with synovial fluid. The fluid is present in various large, movable joints of the body, like, hip, shoulder, knee, elbow, etc. It reduces the friction between the bones, muscles, and other soft tissues of the joints, and ensure smooth and easy joint movements. When a bursa, present in the hip joint, gets inflamed, it causes a lot of pain during hip movements. This condition is known as hip bursitis.
The common causes of this condition is injury caused by the overuse of the hip and excessive pressure on the joints. Repetitive hip joint motions during activities, like, running, cycling, or climbing up the stairs, often irritate the bursa in the hips. On the other hand, standing for long hours, sitting on hard surface, and excessive body weight exerts a lot of pressure on the hip, and may result in bursitis. Traumatic injury due to a bad fall on the hip and degenerative diseases like, arthritis and gout also cause this kind of inflammation. Any structural abnormality of the legs that forces one to limp while walking and a hip surgery can be responsible for this problem.
The most identifiable symptom is, of course, burning hip pain. There are mainly two different types of this hip condition. One is trochanteric bursitis and the other one is ischial bursitis. In trochanteric bursitis, the pain is felt at the side of the hip. On the other hand, pain due to ischial bursitis is experienced at the base of the hip near the buttocks. A unique characteristic of the pain is that, it gets aggravated after walking long distances or while climbing up a hill or stairs. The pain is accompanied by localized swelling and stiffness. It can stiffen the joint so badly, that the range of motion often gets badly affected. It becomes severe when you try to get up from a sitting or lying position. Sometimes, one can hear popping sound while flexing the affected area or pulling the leg.
The problem is diagnosed with the help of a series of laboratory tests including x-rays and MRI scan. Doctors first advise the patient to give sufficient rest to the hip joint, so that the bursa gets scope to heal. You have to modify your lifestyle in order to minimize hip movements. You have to avoid using stairs temporarily. While sitting, you have to use cushioned chair. If your sleeping position aggravates the pain, it has to be changed too.
Resting should be accompanied by cold compression. It helps to bring down the joint inflammation by constricting the blood vessels of the region. You can pack some crushed ice in a plastic bag or use frozen peas for this purpose. Wrap up the ice pack in a piece of cloth, and put it on the affected joint for 15 minutes. It should be applied 3-4 times in a day. You should continue to apply ice regularly till the pain and inflammation subsides.
Doctors prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) to provide temporary relief from pain. However, if the pain is severe, corticosteroid injections are administered directly into the inflamed bursa. This can give an instant relief from the pain, and its effect lasts for quite some time. If there is an infection in the bursa, it has to be treated with suitable antibiotics. Sometimes, doctors may prescribe this medicine just to prevent any infection.
As the pain and stiffness goes down to a certain extent, doctors recommend physical therapy. It includes massaging of the soft tissues, in order to ease off the stiffness, and a few exercises under the supervision of a physical therapist. The exercises involve some simple hip stretches that can add strength to the muscles and tendons of the region.
If a large amount of fluid gets accumulated inside the bursa cavity, it is removed by the doctors with the help of a needle. In some severe cases, where non-surgical treatment fails to cure the problem, doctors opt for a surgery to remove the bursae or a section of the hip bone.
Hip bursitis can be prevented to a great extent by minimizing the pressure on the hip joint. For this, you must wear shoes that provide enough support to the hip joint. While exercising, ensure that you are standing on a leveled ground surface. Those who are overweight must try to lose excess weight in order to keep this health condition at bay.