Exercise Tips for Hip (Trochanteric) Bursitis

As I was lying on the couch, acutely aware of where my trochanter protrudes on my femur. I thought: ‘I should write my little friends (you!) a note about bursitis’.  I have had some flare ups with the ol’ ‘B’ word but I can generally keep the pain pretty short-lived because I know what to stay away from.  And if you have bursitis, I think you should know, too!

Hip burisitis occurs when the cushion between the hip bone and thigh bone gets inflamed

Hip bursitis, and more specifically trochanteric bursitis, occurs when the cushion between the hip bone and muscles of the thigh becomes inflamed,

Acute episodes of bursitis need never become chronic. Just stop pushing on the bursa!  The bursa is a soft little pillow that cushions the connection between a bony point on your thigh bone (the trochanter) and the tissues of the outside of the thigh. And if your thigh bone squishes the bursa, it becomes inflamed; hence the ‘-itis’ that gets suffixed onto the backside of bursa…

How do you squish the bursa? The bursa is easily squished when you externally rotate the thigh or repeatedly rub the trochanter against the bursa once inflamed. External rotation crams the greater trochanter against the bursa squeezing the life out of it. That’s fine when the bursa is happy but when it’s not happy you need to avoid squishing, smushing and otherwise irritating the bursa.

Here are some things you can do to avoid externally rotating the thigh.

  1. Don’t cross your legs with one ankle dropped over the opposite knee.
  2. Do sit with the legs together, knees touching. If you can cross the legs and smush the inner thighs together you will still be avoiding external rotation and you could be internally rotating which will pull the thigh bone away from the bursa–aaahhhh, sweet relief…. (think piriformis stretch for the professionals out there)
  3. Walk with your feet pointed straight ahead: no duck feet. Duck feet externally rotate the hip and smush the bursa
  4. Perform exercises that internally rotate the hip.  Lie on your back, feet hip-width apart and push the knees towards each other.  You can do an isometric push here.
  5. Another exercise: Lie on your side, bottom leg bent, top leg straight. Now lift the top leg to just below hip height.  Then bring the entire inside of the foot back down to touch the floor (heel to big toe knuckle)
  6. Sleep on your back with your ankles crossed and knees rotated inward.  Okay, so you might not last the entire night that way but it is a great way to get off that bursa!
  7. Do not move the leg to the side of your body past the hip bone.  (No hip abduction for the professionals…) You will have to adopt a demur lady-like position in everything you do until the pain subsides.
  8. Do not sit cross-legged.
  9. If you are really flared up you’ll get discomfort with walking for a period of time or otherwise moving the trochanter against the bursa. If you are doing something that hurts, I would recommend not doing that.

Does this make sense? Each and every time you externally rotate the thigh or carry the thigh to the outside of the body you ’smush’ the bursa.  Since the bursa is inflamed that kind of motion is only going to tick it off further.   So…you’ll get relief extremely quickly if you can just remember to STOP SMUSHING THE BURSA.

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions! K

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8 Responses to “Exercise Tips for Hip (Trochanteric) Bursitis”

  1. Edwin Cheves says:

    Thanks for this usefull information.

  2. pingpress says:

    hi, just read your blog and I personally have had problems with upper back strain and found this to be a good source of information thank you :)

  3. dickengirl says:

    Karena, I’ve been dealing with chronic trochanteric bursitis since last winter when I overdid my beloved barre workouts & a faddish workout that involved many, many leg lifts done on all fours :(
    I’m fine with forgoing the latter but will I ever be able to do barre/fusion again? (Think Core Fusion with Liz Halfpapp.)
    I’m currently suffering from trochanteric bursitis & other hip pain still undiagnosed but possibly involving the SI Joints.
    I’m not sure I can envision a life without abduction or turn-out!!!
    Thank you~

  4. Hello, J.L.R.!
    Thanks for your note. You are not sentenced to a life without abduction. :-) But while you are uncomfortable, the more you can avoid it the better. The good thing about bursitis is that it usually hurts right away when you are doing something that’s not good for it. You won’t have to wait until tomorrow to know if what you are doing is going to hurt or not. You’ll be able to return to what you love just give it some time and try something else in the meantime. Water aerobics? Good luck and send me a note. Let me know how it’s going.

  5. oto cu says:

    oto cu…

    [...]Exercise Tips for Hip (Trochanteric) Bursitis | Osteo Pilates Blog[...]…

  6. GardenGirl says:

    (Karena, you make more sense than everything else I’ve read)…suffering from trochanteric bursitis & other hip pain still undiagnosed but possibly involving the SI Joints.{taken from, dickengirl,above…. But read on) this is me ALSO.
    My last Lumbar MRI in March 2012, says…
    The lower lumbar,L2-3, L3-4,L4-5,indicate mild disc bulge, Mild diffuse disc bulge. L5-S1,partial left side sacralization of L5 and mild bilateral neural foraminal narrowing. Duh,low back pain, plus 3 small bulges in my neck. I am (hurting-wise)a 8-9. PILLS!!!
    August 2011 noticed I was having trouble getting in the pick up truck, couldn’t lift my left leg. Pain in my left hip, going to the groin. told the Orthopedist I see,(xray, my hips)(2 visits, hips look fine he says) he says its my back and does the MRI,(2 more visits) and refers me to the, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Dr. for steroids in my back. and an epidural in my neck(3-2012).
    My hip, (now hips),hurt.
    its April 2012. Why did both of these doctors not catch, Bursa inflammation? because they didn’t listen/? or didn’t exam me………………………..
    Sent me to Therapy, He says first day Bursa is swollen, I can NOT do clam shells,! PAIN. He (therapist) is treating my neck with traction and massage and exercise. better. the low back, L4,L5,S1 is frozen, no movement at all in 3 weeks of therapy.
    Walking is painful and I have a garden waiting. I am an active out door woman of 64 years, I weigh 190, because “I have gained 30 pounds from having STEROID, injections for 5 years. I am tired of hurting all the time. I ache like my limbs are HEAVY and I am weighted down. Everything I read says, with a correct diagnosis, and treatment, (more steroids) I would probably still hurt. Well, I had steroid shots in my sacaroid joints and a lumbar epidural @ L5-6, in the neck, epidural@ C3-4 and by mouth. I just get fat and hurt more, and I EAT LESS. Steroids fatten you up regardless of lifestyle, exercise or not, eat or not, fat. Promise and they are only a temporary band-aid fix. But when you are in pain, sure feels nice, for a while.
    The picture you have above showing the hip joint, for me it is an ache that is so deep, its like an abscessed tooth. The bed is my enemy. the chair hates me, standing bad, walking brings on that ACHE deep in the hip joint. I do use Ice for relief and anti-inflammatory pills. plus pain pills and muscular relaxers.
    I have picked out a Rheumatologist out of the BcBs list to see. I have nothing to lose and he specializes in arthritis and I am fooling with doctors that do not diagnosis me properly, or treat me properly. I have better advice from my Therapist and a Pilates instructor-trainer, AND the doctors are making the big bucks. I will do a follow up on this blog, after I see the Rhemitiz Doctor. And Yes, Karena, your Blog is filling a need. Keep it up. Exercise 4 and 5 are going to be a 2-3x a day and I will tell you if it helps. Thank You. GardenGirl

  7. Stacie says:

    GardenGirl, I’ve had hip pain like that and it took several years to get properly diagnosed. I had FAI and a torn labrum. I had surgery for labral debridement and osteoplasty on my femur head. Today, totally pain free! Ask for an MRI with contrast dye and get yourself a really good ortho who knows about labral issues.

  8. TinaG says:

    The stretches you suggest feel great! Ill let you know how I feel after I get stronger.

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