What is greater trochanter bursitis?

A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that cushions the bone from other moving parts, such as tendons, muscles, and skin. Bursae help your joints work smoothly. They cushion your tendons, bones, and ligaments as they move against each other. Bursitis is when these small bursae become irritated or inflamed, and usually happens with injury or joint overuse. 

Greater trochanter bursitis, also called hip bursitis, is when the bursa in the hip become inflamed. Repetitive motions or joint stress can cause or worsen hip bursitis. The greater trochanter is the bony point on the outside of your hip. Usually this is painful on the outside of the hip or leg. There is another bursa in the hip, called the iliopsoas bursae. When this bursa becomes inflamed, it causes pain in the groin area. 

If the outside of your hip becomes tender and swollen, it may be affected with bursitis. Bursitis can be very painful, and tends to be more severe during joint use, or while resting at night. Hip bursitis can become so painful that it may limit your mobility. 

Symptoms

The first sign of trouble with greater trochanter bursitis is pain, as this type of bursitis can be a very painful and uncomfortable condition. The pain for this type of bursitis is usually on the outside of the hip, down the outside of the leg, or in the buttocks. Symptoms of hip bursitis usually begin slowly and get worse over time. Although the symptoms of hip bursitis vary based on which bursa is affected, hip bursitis often creates the following symptoms in the affected area of your hip: 

  • Swelling 
  • Stiffness 
  • Achiness 
  • Pain when you press on it 
  • Redness 
  • Puffiness 
  • Warmth 
  • Tenderness 
  • Discomfort while the hip is in use or at rest 

If the greater trochanter bursa is also affected, it will cause pain in the outside of the hip.  

Causes

Hip bursitis happens when the bursa fills with extra fluid and becomes inflamed. This inflammation puts pressure on the nearby tissue and causes discomfort. Hip bursitis can be caused by: 

  • Joint overuse at work or during recreation 
  • Injury, such as a blow to the hip or a fall 
  • Repetitive motions such as squatting repeatedly 
  • Motions that put extended pressure on the joint   
  • Muscle imbalances 
  • Bacterial infection of the bursa in the hip 

Hip bursitis can also be caused by other health conditions such as: 

  • Rheumatoid arthritis 
  • Obesity 
  • Gout 

You are also more likely to get bursitis at an older age, or if your occupation or hobbies involve a lot of repetitive motion.

Diagnosis, Treatments & Prevention

Diagnosis & Tests

To diagnose bursitis, your healthcare provider will usually perform a physical exam. They may take a sample of the bursa’s fluid to make sure it is not infected. 

Your healthcare provider may also perform an ultrasound. An ultrasound creates pictures of the inside of the body using soundwaves. Ultrasound is a noninvasive medical test to help your healthcare provider perform a diagnosis by showing real-time conditions of the body’s internal organs, blood vessels, muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and soft tissues. It is very safe and painless.