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Physical Therapy for Trochanteric Bursitis – Information, Exercises, and More

You’ve been dealing with it for long enough. You feel it when you climb the stairs, or when you get up after laying down for too long—the pain and discomfort in your hips from trochanteric bursitis is too much. 

Now, you want answers. 

We understand how frustrating it can be to live with pain. That’s why we’re here to help. 

In this guide, we’re answering all your questions about trochanteric bursitis and what you can do to relieve the symptoms.

What is Trochanteric Bursitis?

Your body has over 140 bursae. Bursae are tiny, slipper sacs of fluid that assist in the gliding motion of your tendons, ligaments, and muscles over your bones. Bursitis occurs when a bursa’s synovial membrane becomes inflamed and irritated. When this happens, the membrane may start to produce excess synovial fluid causing the bursa to swell. 

Bursitis can occur anywhere a bursa is located, but most commonly in the shoulder, elbow, and hip.  

Your trochanteric bursa provides a cushion and reduces friction between the bone’s surface and the soft tissue that covers it during hip and knee movement. 

Trochanteric bursitis, also known as greater trochanteric pain syndrome (GTPS), is a common condition where the trochanteric bursathe bony knob near the top of your thigh bonebecomes inflamed.

What Causes Trochanteric Bursitis

Bursitis commonly occurs in women, middle-aged, or elderly people. 

Although in many cases the cause of trochanteric bursitis is unknown, there are several potential causes, including: 

  • Direct impact injuries: these may cause the bursa to fill with blood—known as a hematoma—irritating the bursa and lead to inflammation
  • Overuse: repetitive physical activities like running, biking, or jumping increases the chances of inflammation of your hips bursa sacks.
  • Bone spurs: bone spurs may rub against the trochanter bursa  
  • Tendon injuries: abductor tendonitis, for example, is linked to the development of trochanteric bursitis  
  • Chronic disease: rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriasis, thyroid disease, etc. may put you at greater risk for developing trochanteric bursitis
  • Excessive pressure: pressure on the outside of the hip can cause trochanteric bursitis, this can occur from things like poor posture, or sleeping on hard services, etc.
  • Obesity: excess weight puts greater pressure on your hips and the area surrounding them  
  • Previous surgery: if you’ve had hip surgery in the past, like a hip replacement, you’re at risk for developing trochanteric bursitis
  • Septic bursitis: infected bursa may also lead to trochanteric bursitis 

Trochanteric Bursitis Symptoms

The number one symptom of trochanteric bursitis is pain in the outer part of your hip

This pain may radiate down your thigh.  It generally starts out as a sharp pain, and then fades into an aching, persistent pain. 

The pain gets worse with activities like

  • Getting up out of a car or up from a chair
  • Walking
  • Running, or
  • Climbing stairs

Aside from pain, swelling and tenderness may also occur on the affected side of the body.  

Trochanteric Bursitis Treatment

Primary care providers, physiatrists, sports medicine doctors, physical therapists, and orthopedic surgeons can provide trochanteric bursitis treatment. 

The main goal of treatment for trochanteric bursitis is to reduce the inflammation of the bursa. 

Treatment options vary based on two things:

  1. The underlying cause of the inflammation
  2. The severity of the inflammation 

In some cases of trochanteric bursitis, the underlying cause is an impingement or an injury to a tendon that’s causing or making bursitis worse. In these cases, your physician will treat the underlying issue to alleviate any associated symptoms. 

Non-Surgical Trochanteric Bursitis Treatment

  • Antibiotics: with an infected bursa, your physician may prescribe antibiotics to stop the spread. 
  • Rest: if trochanteric bursitis occurs because of overuse or injury, your doctor will likely recommend rest.

    Avoid activities that will aggravate the bursa, including sports and standing for long periods of time. The doctor may also recommend using a cane or crutches to relieve some pressure while moving. 
  • Physical Therapy: physical therapy may be recommended to treat trochanteric bursitis and prevent future flare-ups. 
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and other anti-inflammatory medicines may help reduce swelling, inflammation, and pain associated with trochanteric bursitis. 
  • Corticosteroid Injections: if other non-surgical treatment options such as rest, physical therapy, and NSAIDs are not helpful in reducing the symptoms of trochanteric bursitis, your doctor may recommend corticosteroid injections to relieve symptoms. 

If you are experiencing pain from trochanteric bursitis, injections may completely alleviate symptoms, or relieve them for an extended period.  

Surgical Trochanteric Bursitis Treatment

  • Tendon repair and iliotibial band (IT band) release: if your IT band is too tight, or a tendon is injured it can lead to friction and irritation on the trochanteric bursa. Surgery can be done to lengthen the IT band or repair the injury. 
  • Osteotomy: during an osteotomy of the greater trochanter, the surgeon shaves off a portion of the femur to reduce friction and stress on the bursa. 

Trochanteric bursectomy:  if a  bursectomy is needed, the doctor will create a small incision on the side of the thigh where he/she will then remove any inflamed or infected bursa.

Trochanteric Bursitis Physical Therapy – Will PT Help?

You might be wondering, “How can physical therapy help rid me of the pain associated with trochanteric bursitis?” 

Physical therapy for trochanteric bursitis can be very helpful in easing your pain and symptoms. Your physical therapist will start by assessing your condition and then help you design a treatment program for your needs. 

Your physical therapist will work with you to improve your… 

  • Strength
  • Motion
  • Balance
  • Flexibility

and help you reduce your pain and swelling, learn at home-exercises, and help you return to normal activities in the safest and most efficient way.   

If trochanteric bursitis surgery is necessary, your physical therapist’s job may be to help you heal and regain strength post-surgery.  

Physical therapy can help you return to your normal lifestyle.

Best Trochanteric Bursitis Exercises

Exercise helps to…  

  • Prevent muscle atrophy
  • Strengthen the muscles that help support your hips, and 
  • Maintain flexibility and range-of-motion of your hips 

 …which can assist in minimizing the risk of developing trochanteric bursitis. 

If you are already experiencing trochanteric bursitis, exercises, specifically stretching and strength training—with reasonable amounts of weight—can help reduce the pain caused by bursitis. 

Speak with your doctor, or physical therapist, before doing exercises that could make your pain or condition worse. The general recommendation is to stretch two to three times a day and to stop if you feel pain.   

Fire Hydrants

Your glutes control three major hip movements, so it’s vital that you build their strength. 

Fire hydrant exercises require no equipment, and although they might look a little silly, this exercise helps build the strength you need. 

The fire hydrant is an excellent exercise for trochanteric bursitis because it strengthens your hip joint by targeting your glutes and increasing your range of motion.

Clamshell Stretches

One of the best exercises for trochanteric bursitis is called the clamshell stretch. This exercise targets the glutes and aids in… 

  • Hip stabilization 
  • Balance 
  • Pain relief 

…when overcoming trochanteric bursitis. 

Hip Bridges

Hip bridges engage several muscles including your:

  • Hip flexors
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps

Each of these muscles helps support the hip joint, making this exercise the perfect exercise to strengthen your hips when suffering from trochanteric bursitis.

How In Motion O.C. Can Help With Trochanteric Bursitis

In Motion O.C. has treated dozens of patients suffering from trochanteric bursitis and we want to help you overcome the pain and get back to living your life the way it should be lived—pain-free.  

Voted #1 Physical Therapy Clinic in the entire country on Yelp, our staff are here to help you with all your physical therapy needs. 

Schedule a consultation at our state-of-the-art facility in Irvine, CA, today.

In Motion O.C.