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Understanding Hip Bursitis It’s Symptoms and Triggers

Understanding Hip Bursitis It’s Symptoms and Triggers

As an orthopedic surgeon specializing in a range of joint injuries, I am keenly aware of the challenges individuals face when dealing with conditions such as hip bursitis. This article aims to provide comprehensive insights into hip bursitis, shedding light on its symptoms, triggers, and dispelling common misconceptions.

What Does a Hip Bursitis Feel Like?

Hip bursitis, also known as trochanteric bursitis, is a condition characterized by inflammation of the bursae—a tiny, fluid-filled sac that cushions and reduces friction between bones, tendons, and muscles around the hip joint. 

Individuals experiencing hip bursitis often describe a deep ache or sharp pain on the outside of the hip. This discomfort is usually exacerbated by activities like walking, climbing stairs, or standing for extended periods. The pain can be worse at night when laying on the affected side. Understanding these sensations is crucial for recognizing the need for medical attention.

What Are the Three Symptoms of Hip Bursitis?

Hip bursitis manifests through various symptoms that can significantly impact one’s daily life.

  • Pain and Tenderness: One of the symptoms is pain and tenderness on the outer part of the hip. This discomfort can range from a mild ache to a sharp, stabbing sensation, making movements like lying on the affected side or getting up from a chair, particularly painful.
  • Limited Range of Motion: Hip bursitis can restrict the hip’s range of motion, making it challenging to perform activities that involve lateral movements. Individuals may experience stiffness or difficulty in spreading their legs apart.

What can Trigger Hip Bursitis?

Several factors can contribute to the development of hip bursitis. Understanding these triggers can help individuals minimize their risk or manage their condition more effectively.

Repetitive Movements: Activities that involve frequent or repetitive movements of the hip joint, such as running, cycling, or climbing stairs, can lead to irritation of the bursa. Over time, this irritation can escalate into inflammation and bursitis.

Incorrect Posture or Biomechanics: Poor posture, unequal leg lengths, or altered biomechanics can put uneven stress on the hip joint, leading to bursa inflammation. This is especially true for individuals with a tendency to stand or walk with a tilted pelvis.

Direct Trauma: Traumatic events like a fall directly onto the hip or a sudden impact can injure the bursa and trigger inflammation. Athletes involved in contact sports are particularly susceptible to this type of injury.

Is Bursitis a Form of Arthritis?

Contrary to common misconceptions, hip bursitis is not a form of arthritis. While both conditions involve joint pain and inflammation, they affect different structures within the joint. Arthritis primarily targets the joint itself, damaging the cartilage and bone over time. Bursitis, on the other hand, involves inflammation of the bursae—a separate set of fluid-filled sacs that facilitate smooth movement between muscles, tendons, and bones.


Hip bursitis can be a painful and limiting condition, but with proper understanding and guidance, its impact can be minimized. Recognizing the symptoms, understanding the triggers, and dispelling misconceptions about its relation to arthritis are key steps toward effective management. 

If you’re experiencing persistent hip pain or discomfort, seeking the expertise of a specialized orthopedic surgeon can provide you with a personalized treatment plan tailored to your needs, helping you regain your mobility and quality of life.

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