7 Tips to Avoid Hip Bursitis

Our hips do an amazing amount of work. These complex joints support the weight of our bodies and allow us to sit, stand, walk, and move our upper legs. When we experience hip pain, it can be a significant cause for concern.
Bursitis is a common hip injury that can feel painful but is often easily treatable. By taking a few precautions, we can keep our hip joints healthy, strong, and mobile.

Of course, if you experience any hip pain, it’s important to talk to a professional to get to the root of the problem. Even though hip bursitis is a common injury that’s easy to treat, other hip injuries like hip labral tears, joint impingements, and stress fractures can be more serious. So if you’re experiencing hip discomfort, reach out to the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin today. We’re here to help you get back to pain-free movement.

What is Hip Bursitis?

Inside each hip, there are two bursa sacs. Bursae are also found in many other joints, including the knees, shoulders, and elbows. Think of them as a cushion—filled with fluid. They keep our joints lubricated and protected as they move.

The two bursae of the hip are called the trochanteric bursa and the iliopsoas bursa. The trochanteric or “outer” bursa, located on the outside area of the hip, is the most likely to become inflamed. When this happens in the medical world, it’s known as greater trochanteric pain syndrome or GTPS, but most people also refer to this common hip injury as bursitis.

You can experience bursitis in any joint, but hip bursitis is a fairly common condition. The common hip injury often happens in older adults, but young people can also experience hip bursitis. Studies have found that about 15% of women and 8.5% of men will experience hip bursitis in at least one of their hips during their lifetime.

What Causes Hip Bursitis?

Most of the time, the root of this common hip injury is repetitive motion, causing friction in the bursa and causing it to become inflamed. Runners, bikers, and even regular walkers may experience a flare-up of hip bursitis, particularly if they’re moving up and down a lot of hills. Sometimes bursitis is brought on by an uneven gait. Most people have slight differences in leg length, and as we age, uneven steps may result in irritation in the hip.

We may also have an uneven gait if we’re recovering from a back, knee, or ankle injury or if we have arthritis in one of those areas. Suddenly, as we put more pressure on one side of the body, the joint becomes irritated and inflamed. Other causes include traumatic injury, diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, and infection.

People with hip bursitis or GTPS often feel pain on the outside of their legs. This pain can be in the hip, thigh, or buttock. They may notice that the pain occurs when climbing stairs, moving from sitting to standing, walking, running, or even lying on the hip. Hip bursitis discomfort can happen when the leg is moved back and forth or during side-to-side motion.

7 Tips for Preventing Hip Bursitis or GTPS

How do we avoid the discomfort of bursitis? The key to avoiding this common hip injury is prevention. Once hip bursitis flares up, rest and ice are often the best way to soothe the discomfort. Other forms of hip bursitis treatment include physical therapy, and in some cases, surgery (although patients can usually resolve it with nonsurgical approaches).

Keep your body healthy and strong with these tips to avoid hip bursitis before it happens.

1. Keep Hips Flexible and Legs Strong

Many times, GPTS can occur because of weaknesses in our gait. To avoid reoccurrence, a physical therapist can guide you through leg strengthening exercises. Commonly, weakness in the glutes and problems with legs, knees, and ankles can also lead to hip problems.

To counteract this common hip injury, yoga, Pilates, and similar exercises can help. Not only do these exercises help us build strength throughout the body (and especially our core and legs), but they also help with flexibility.

2. Maintain a Healthy Weight

One of the best ways to avoid joint discomfort is to maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight can lead to stress on the joints, including hips and knees. Many times, even a small weight loss can make a world of difference.
Follow an exercise plan, eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, drink plenty of water and get rest. Following these guidelines will help you feel healthier overall and will help you avoid many different types of joint pain.

3. Follow the Guidelines for Any Sport

When you engage in athletic activities, be sure to follow all the guidelines and rules of the sport. Many times, these guidelines are in place to help athletes avoid injuries. Listen to instructions, review best practices, and work with a trainer or coach, especially to start.

Water sports and swimming are often a little easier on the joints, thanks to the buoyancy of the water. If you’re taking a break from sports due to a hip bursitis flare-up, consider getting in the pool before you move on land. Water aerobics offer great cardio benefits and can help you get back a comfortable range of motion.

4. Wear Comfortable, Supportive Footwear

For almost any activity, proper footwear is crucial. Hip pain can occur when we wear unsupportive shoes, heels, or flip-flops that don’t support and cradle the foot. Ill-fitting shoes can cause us to favor one side over the other, putting extra stress and strain on joints.

Should you have one leg that’s a little longer than the other, ask your physician if a shoe insert could help you have a more even gait. This will take the pressure off your hips and help you maintain better posture while walking.

5. Slowly Work Up to Athletic Activities

Ready to start a running program or train for a bike race? Be sure to pace yourself as you begin. Many injuries are seen right after the new year or at the beginning of different sports seasons. Athletes often expect to perform at their optimal condition right away.

If you’ve been off the court (or out of your running shoes) for a while, take time to ramp back up. Following an incremental running program like a “couch to 5K” may feel a little too gradual if you’ve been a runner in the past, but taking it slow and steady can help you finish the next race without injury.

6. Keep Good Posture

Posture is good for spine health and helps us avoid neck and shoulder pain. It’s also essential for the health of our hips. The key to preventing this common hip injury is maintaining balance throughout the body. When our posture is in a slump, our body isn’t balanced.

Sit up straight, and work in a chair with good ergonomics. If you work at a job that requires standing, be sure to wear supportive shoes that allow you to keep both feet firmly planted on the floor. Relax your shoulders and maintain a loose but comfortable posture. Don’t arch your back or lock your knees. By maintaining a relaxed stance, you’ll avoid back pain as well as hip pain.

7. Listen to Your Body to Avoid Hip Injury

Many times, injuries occur because we aren’t listening to our body’s signals. We may push ourselves to go a little further or to play through the pain. While exercise can cause some stress on the body, movement shouldn’t be sharply painful.

No one knows your body quite like you do. So if something doesn’t feel right, or if your hip bursitis continues to interfere with the comfort of your regular activities, reach out to talk with an orthopedic expert. There may be a simple solution to address your hip discomfort.

At OHOW, we’re here to help you move without pain. Don’t let hip bursitis keep you from the activities you enjoy. Our practitioners are here to get you back on your feet quickly and comfortably! Contact us today to schedule an appointment at any of our convenient locations.