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

You’ve been dealing with trochanteric bursitis on your own for long enough. When you … 

  • Climb the stairs
  • Get up after lying down for a long period of time; or
  • Lean against a wall

… the pain and discomfort in your hips are almost too much to bear.

You’re here because you want answers and we’re here to help. We understand how frustrating it can be to live with pain.

Keep reading to find the answers to 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 — 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 happens in the:

  • Shoulder
  • Elbow; and
  • Hip

Your trochanteric bursa is the protective sac over the greater trochanter, a bony knob near the top of your thigh bone. This sac provides a cushion and reduces friction between the bone’s surface and the soft tissue covering it during hip and knee movement.

Trochanteric bursitis (also known as greater trochanteric pain syndrome or GTPS) is a common condition where the trochanteric bursa becomes inflamed.

What Causes Trochanteric Bursitis?

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

Although in many cases the origin 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 leading to inflammation.
  • Overuse — Repetitive physical activities like running, biking, or jumping increase the chance of inflammation in your hips’ bursa sacs.
  • Bone spurs — These may develop on the greater trochanter and rub against the bursa.
  • Tendon injuries — Abductor tendonitis, for example, is linked to the development of trochanteric bursitis.
  • Chronic disease — Rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriasis, thyroid disease, and more may put you at a greater risk for developing trochanteric bursitis.
  • Excessive pressure — Pressure on the outside of the hip can cause trochanteric bursitis. This could be from things like poor posture or sleeping on hard surfaces.
  • Obesity — Excess weight puts greater pressure on your hips and surrounding areas.
  • Previous surgery — If you’ve had hip surgery in the past, such as a replacement, you’re at risk for developing trochanteric bursitis.
  • Septic bursitis is An infection in the bursa that 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 — which may radiate down your thigh — generally starts out sharp, then fades into an aching, persistent sensation.

The pain worsens with activities such as:

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

Swelling and tenderness may also occur on the affected side of the body.

Trochanteric Bursitis Treatment

Many different medical professionals can provide trochanteric bursitis treatment, including:

  • Primary care providers
  • Physiatrists
  • Sports medicine doctors
  • Orthopedic surgeons
  • Physical therapists

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 injury to a tendon that’s causing bursitis or making it worse. In these cases, your physician will treat the underlying issue to alleviate any associated symptoms.

Non-Surgical Trochanteric Bursitis Treatment

Treatments for trochanteric bursitis that do not involve surgery include:

  • Rest — If trochanteric bursitis occurs because of overuse or injury, your physician will likely recommend this course of action. Avoid activities that will aggravate the bursa, including sports and standing for long periods. You may also need to use a cane or crutches to relieve pressure while moving.
  • Physical therapy — This can treat trochanteric bursitis and prevent future flare-ups.
  • Antibiotics — With an infected bursa, your doctor may prescribe these to treat and stop the spread of infection.
  • 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 these other non-surgical treatment methods don’t help reduce your trochanteric bursitis symptoms, your doctor may recommend these injections. They may completely alleviate symptoms or just relieve them for an extended period.

Surgical Trochanteric Bursitis Treatment

Treatments for trochanteric bursitis that require surgery include:

  • Tendon repair and iliotibial (IT) band release — If your IT band is too tight or a tendon is injured, this can lead to friction and irritation on the trochanteric bursa. Surgery can be done to lengthen the IT band or repair the injury.
  • OsteotomyThis involves a surgeon shaving off a portion of the femur to reduce friction and stress on the bursa.
  • Trochanteric bursectomyThe surgeon will create a small incision on the side of the thigh and remove any inflamed or infected bursa.

Trochanteric Bursitis Physical Therapy: Will PT Help?

You may be wondering, “Will physical therapy for trochanteric bursitis help me get rid of my pain?”

The answer is yes! Trochanteric bursitis physical therapy exercises can be beneficial in easing your pain and symptoms.

Your physical therapist will start by assessing your condition and then help you design a physical therapy treatment program for trochanteric bursitis that will improve your:

  • Strength
  • Motion
  • Balance; and
  • Flexibility

Greater trochanteric bursitis physical therapy exercises will help reduce your pain and swelling.

If trochanteric bursitis surgery is necessary, your physical therapist’s job may be to help you:

  • Heal and regain strength post-surgery
  • Learn at-home exercises
  • Get back to regular activities in the safest and most efficient way

Trochanteric bursitis physical therapy can help you return to your normal lifestyle.

Best Physical Therapy Exercises for Greater Trochanteric Bursitis

Exercise can help …

  • Prevent muscle atrophy
  • Strengthen the muscles that support your hips; and
  • Maintain hip flexibility and range of motion

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

If you are already experiencing this condition, greater trochanteric bursitis physical therapy exercises can help reduce the pain it causes. Specifically, you should work on stretching and strength training with reasonable amounts of weight.

Always talk to your doctor or physical therapist before doing exercises that could make your pain or condition worse. 

Some great trochanteric bursitis physical therapy exercises are:

  • Fire hydrants — Your glutes control three major hip movements, so it’s vital to build their strength. 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 — This exercise also targets the glutes and aids in hip stabilization, balance, and pain relief.
  • Hip bridges — These engage several muscles that support the hip joint, including the hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps.

When doing physical therapy trochanteric bursitis exercises, the general recommendation is to do two to three sets per day and stop if you feel pain.

In Motion O.C. Is Here for Your Trochanteric Bursitis Physical Therapy Needs

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

We were voted the #1 physical therapy clinic in the country on Yelp and are here to help you with all your physical therapy needs.

In Motion O.C.