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What is Hip Bursitis?

A bursa is a closed fluid-filled sac that functions as a gliding surface to reduce friction between body tissues. When a bursa becomes inflamed, the condition is known as “bursitis.”

There are two major bursae of the hip, the trochanteric bursa, and the ischial bursa. These are located adjacent to the edges of the femur (thighbone) and pelvic bone, respectively. Inflammation of either can be associated with stiffness and pain around the hip joint. The trochanteric bursa is located on the side of the hip. It is separated significantly from the actual hip joint by tissue and bone. Bursitis is not arthritis and, therefore, is not a cause of real joint pain.

Why does it happen?

Most commonly, bursitis is a non-infectious condition (aseptic bursitis) caused by inflammation that results from local soft-tissue trauma or strain injury. On rare occasions, the hip bursa can become infected with bacteria. This condition is called septic bursitis. Although uncommon, the hip bursa can become inflamed by crystals that deposit from that place gout, pseudogout, or calcinosis as a result of scleroderma.

What does it feel like?

Trochanteric bursitis has the following symptoms:

  • • Pain and tenderness of the outer hip and thigh, making it difficult for those affected to lie on the involved side
  • • Difficulty sleeping due to pain.
  • • Dull, burning pain on the outer hip and thigh often worsens with excessive walking, exercise, or stair climbing.
  • • Iliotibial band syndrome can sometimes mimic or be associated with trochanteric bursitis.

Ischial bursitis has the following symptoms:

  • • The ischial bursa is located in the upper buttock area. Ischial bursitis can cause dull pain in this area that is most noticeable when climbing uphill.
  • • The pain sometimes occurs after prolonged sitting on hard surfaces, hence the names “weaver's bottom” and “tailor's bottom.”


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