Hip bursitis is a painful condition, especially if an individual has had a pre-existing hip injury. Athletes involved in repetitive movements like running or bicycling are likely to experience bursitis.
So what exactly is bursitis? Bursitis is the swelling of the bursa, which is a small cushion-like sac containing fluid. It is a protective sac that surrounds joints. The hip bursa is located over the outside part of the hip bone (also known as the trochanter). This protective sac is also present in other joints like the knee, shoulder, and heel. When the bursa becomes inflamed, the pain is usually sharp and intense.
Occasionally, the pain of hip bursitis can be dull and achy. It may also spread to the lower back, with the inside of the hip (towards the groin area) also becoming affected.
Traditionally, a physician may decide to treat the pain and discomfort of bursitis with medication. Weight loss to minimize load on the joint and surrounding tissues may also be recommended. A physical therapist can play an important role in the design of a safe, effective exercise program to strengthen muscles and improve joint mobility without pain and discomfort.
A vicious cycle of pain and inflammation can result in progressive joint stiffness and muscle weakness, as the body tries to limit the extent of pain associated with bursitis. When pain subsides, a physical therapist can help the individual restore mobility and strength.
The first step with physical therapy is a detailed evaluation to determine the extent of motion, strength, flexibility and the status of tissues surrounding the joint. This may require advanced tests. After gathering the right information, the therapist can plan a safe, effective exercise program to help the individual recover as soon as possible. It’s important to maintain full range of motion in the hip joint, and strengthen the surrounding muscles after a period of warm up and stretching. All of this will be outlined and documented by the physical therapist, who will guide the patient throughout the recovery process.
The primary objective of physical therapy is to reduce pain by improving mobility and restoring muscle balance gradually. Supervised exercise is important in the early stages, followed by a progressive home exercise program consisting of hip strengthening exercises. The intensity of these exercises will be judged by the physical therapist.
If you or someone you know is suffering from hip pain, one of our physical therapists can diagnose the condition to determine whether bursitis is a likely cause.
Since the hip is a major weight bearing joint, it is important to treat hip bursitis as quickly as possible. Left untreated, the condition can become extremely painful and trigger low back pain and postural imbalances. Your physical therapist program may suggest mobility exercises like bicycling and strengthening exercises like leg raises, depending on your current condition. It is highly recommended that you consult your physical therapist before beginning any exercises if you have hip pain. This will minimize stress on inflamed tissues and help you avoid pain and further injury.
Stop the frustrating cycle of pain and inactivity and don’t let hip pain get in the way of a healthy, active lifestyle.