What Should I Do About My Hip Bursitis?



Bursitis can be caused by daily activities. Spring has officially begun and it’s getting warmer and warmer here in Arizona, more people are going outside to do their favorite activities. Whether it’s gardening, jogging, tennis, or golf, I’m seeing more people out and about enjoying the wonderful weather that Arizona has to offer.

But, as I’m seeing more and more patients come to me experiencing hip pain, I realized that not many people know the pain that can result from performing these activities repeatedly.

This Is Where The Term “Bursitis” Comes Into Play.

Bursitis is defined as inflammation of the fluid-filled pads, or bursae, that act as the cushions around our joints.

“How would my daily activity cause this?” I hear patients ask time and time again.

Activities such as gardening, biking, and even walking tend to increase the chance of acquiring bursitis. Bursitis occurs at the joints that perform frequent, repetitive motion. I also see this with people who sit for long periods of time at a desk or while driving. Then they go on their walk, hike, or exercise routine and get this pain in their hips.

How Can Bursitis Affect Me?

Now when talking about hip pain, bursitis commonly targets the hip due to the many bursae found at those specific joints. Mainly the bursae that cushion the greater trochanter, the big knobby bone on the outside of the upper thigh.

If you ever feel a warm, swelling, and uncomfortable pain around the outer thigh that spreads down to the knee, odds are you’re experiencing bursitis.

And if you’re in your late 20s or early 30s, don’t rule this out as a possibility!

Although bursitis is more common in middle-aged to elderly women, it may affect anyone.

watch this short video on How to Prevent Bursitis.

What Can I Do About It?

There are many things that can be done when suffering from bursitis, but the most important is to avoid the activity that has been causing it. You should do this for about 2 weeks. Icing and heating the area in the comfort of your own home can be effective and you should be back to doing what you love in no time.

BUT, at-home treatment isn’t always such a permanent solution. Often, the pain and swelling return after some time and my patients often come into my clinic, discouraged and frustrated, feeling like it’s a never-ending cycle.

This is why I want people who are suffering from this painful inflammation to know that there are other options and that they don’t have to continue living this way.

Seeking out a Physical Therapist will allow you to find a permanent solution. Use hands-on manual techniques coupled with tailored exercises to your specific condition, in order to avoid the painful steroid injections that often accompany a doctor’s visit.

Clam Shells

Clamshells are a great technique that can be performed at home, lying on the floor or on a steady surface. This exercise targets both the gluteus medius and the gluteus maximus (the largest muscle in the body). If you’re looking for a technique that aids in hip stabilization, balance, and most importantly pain relief, clamshells are a perfect option. To perform this exercise:

  • Lie on either your right or left side, with your feet and hips stacked, knees bent at 90 degrees and your head resting on your bottom arm.
  • Keeping the abs engaged, place your feet together and raise the top knee as far as you can without rotating the hip or lifting the knee off of the floor.
  • While holding for 1 second, remember to squeeze the glutes at the top before lowering the knee to the starting position.

To get the full effect, try performing this technique 20 times on each side. Strong glutes will allow you to perform the activities that you enjoy while avoiding the pain and risk of bursitis.

Glute Medius IT Band Stretch

Unlike clamshells that aim to strengthen the hip muscles, this IT band stretch aims to stretch out the area. Stretching is always important when talking about muscles that are used daily. So hip muscles, that allow you to walk, jog and go about life are essential to stretch regularly. To perform this exercise:

  • While lying flat on your back, loop the band around your foot and bring your leg straight up.
  • Keeping the knee straight, bring your leg across the midline for a gentle stretch. This should be felt along your outer thigh and for the most benefit, should be held for 30 seconds for a total of three times on each side.

So if you’re experiencing hip pain or even bursitis and are feeling like you’re running out of options, don’t fear! These two techniques aim to get you back to your life, naturally and painkiller-free.

PS. To see these techniques demonstrated, watch the video on how you can perform these exercises.


Clam Shells and IT band stretch

Nick Hunter, PT, DPT

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