06/22/2023 by Dr. Goldi Jacques-Maynes
Keep Bursitis in Check with Chiropractic
When you've got bursitis in your hip, life is so much harder. Bursitis causes persistent pain and discomfort, and limits your mobility. With bursitis, just getting around the house becomes a monumental task.
Bursitis impacts your physical fitness by restricting exercise and keeping you from doing the things you love.
Living with chronic bursitis pain can lead to increased stress and anxiety from the limits it places on your life. It interferes with your work productivity, and makes it hard to participate in your favorite social activities.
If you're suffering from bursitis, you’ll be glad to know that chiropractic can help ease your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
What is bursitis of the hip?
When you have bursitis in your hip, the bursae (small fluid-filled sacs) around your hip joint are inflamed. This inflammation causes pain, swelling and tenderness.
Who typically gets bursitis of the hip?
When it comes to who's likely to develop bursitis, we commonly observe it in middle-aged to elderly individuals, as well as athletes. Bursitis of the hip also tends to affect women more than men.
While hip bursitis can affect anyone, it is more common in women and middle-aged or elderly people.
A few years back, we had a retired female patient who came to us with intense hip pain.
She described the pain as particularly severe at night when lying in bed. Walking seemed to worsen her discomfort, while applying ice provided some relief. She was concerned about her upcoming trip abroad. Fearing that she wouldn't be able to walk and hike European locations like roads and castles, she came to us for some pain relief. We were able to treat her and work with her healthcare team. She did her part with proper self-care and doing her prescribed exercises. Happily, she was able to enjoy her trip to Europe!
The following risk factors have been associated with the development of hip bursitis.
- Repetitive stress (overuse) injury: This can occur when running, stair climbing, bicycling, or standing for long periods of time
- Hip injury: An injury to the point of your hip can occur when you fall onto your hip, bump your hip, or lie on one side of your body for an extended period of time
- Spine disease: This includes scoliosis, arthritis of the lumbar (lower) spine, and other spine problems that may affect the way you walk
- Leg-length inequality: When one leg is significantly shorter than the other, it affects the way you walk, and can lead to irritation of a hip bursa
- Rheumatoid arthritis: This makes the bursa more likely to become inflamed
- Previous surgery: Surgery around the hip or prosthetic implants in the hip can irritate the bursa and cause bursitis
- Bone spurs or calcium deposits: These can develop within the tendons that attach muscles to the trochanter. They can irritate the bursa and cause inflammation
- Recent infection: Septic bursitis, also known as infectious bursitis, happens when a bursa gets infected and becomes inflamed
- Recent surgery: Hip surgery or getting a prosthetic hip implant (like a hip replacement) can cause irritation to the bursa, leading to the development of hip bursitis
- History of a recent fall: When you fall on the outer part of your hip or forcefully hit your hip against a hard surface, it can result in the bursa filling with blood or the lining of the bursa becoming inflamed
What are the symptoms of bursitis of the hip?
The main symptom of bursitis is pain at the point of your hip. The pain usually extends to the outside of the thigh area. In the early stages, the pain is usually described as sharp and intense. Later, the pain may become more of an ache and spread across a larger area of the hip.
The symptoms of bursitis may also include:
- Pain and tenderness in the hip area
- Swelling, warmth or redness in the affected area
- Difficulty or discomfort while walking or moving your hip
- Increased pain with prolonged activity or pressure on your hip joint
How do chiropractors diagnose bursitis?
We typically diagnose bursitis by conducting a physical examination. We will examine your affected hip, looking for signs of inflammation, tenderness and limited range of motion. We'll also take a medical history and assess your lifestyle.
We may also refer you for imaging tests, such as X-rays or ultrasound, to rule out other possible hip conditions like degenerative hip disease.
How do chiropractors treat bursitis?
Treatment plans vary depending on the individual and the severity of the bursitis. We tailor our approach to your specific needs to help alleviate your pain, improve function, and support your overall recovery.
Once we assess your condition, we will choose the best treatment for you. We may use/recommend:
- Chiropractic Adjustments: to realign the affected joint and the joints up and down the kinetic chain. Adjusting the pelvis, knees and ankles can help support alignment of the hip. Adjustments also ease pressure on the bursa, and restore movement
- Soft Tissue Therapy: massage, myofascial release, or instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization to reduce muscle tension, promote blood flow and relieve pain
- Therapeutic Exercises: prescribed to strengthen the surrounding muscles, improve joint stability, and enhance flexibility
- Electrical Stimulation: to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and help healing
- SelfCare: proper stretching, icing, and rest to manage symptoms and prevent recurrences
- More Supportive Furniture: a new mattress is often helpful in supporting a pain free sleep posture. Sometimes you may need a new couch to improve your posture and add support when relaxing at the end of the day
- A New Car: we’ve had patients change the vehicle they drive from manual to automatic transmission to ease pain when driving
- Shoe Insert: Getting a properly fitting shoe insert for a leg-length difference can really help
In cases that don't resolve with conservative care, we refer to an orthopedist and/or a PT for co-management. Sometimes a steroid injection into the bursa is needed to quickly resolve the pain. Injection of a corticosteroid along with a local anesthetic may also help to relieve symptoms of hip bursitis. The injection may provide temporary (months) or permanent relief. In the case of our above mentioned elderly patient, this is what she opted for so that she could enjoy her European adventure pain-free.
A word of caution on repeated injections.
If pain and inflammation return, it is important to figure out the cause of the bursitis. The number of injections must be limited, as use of corticosteroid injections for a long time may damage the surrounding tissues and lead to more permanent problems.
How long does it take for chiropractic to work for bursitis?
The time it takes for chiropractic treatment to work for bursitis can vary. It depends on how severe your bursitis is, how your body responds to treatment, and how well you follow our recommendations. Our goal is to address the underlying causes of your bursitis and promote healing, which can take time.
Some people start feeling relief and see improvement after a few visits. Others may need a longer treatment plan.
When you first come in, we'll give you an estimate of how long it may take based on your specific situation. We'll also track your progress and make any necessary changes along the way.
What is the recommended SelfCare for bursitis?
Self-care is an important part of managing your bursitis. We may recommend:
- Rest: avoid activities that worsen your pain or strain your hip joint
- Ice Therapy: can help reduce inflammation and ease pain
- Pain Management: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help
- Exercises: gentle exercises and stretching can help improve joint mobility and strengthen the surrounding muscles
- Heat Therapy: applying heat can help relax muscles and promote blood circulation
- Avoid Repetitive Movements: Modify your movements and posture to avoid further irritation
- Maintain a Healthy Weight: Excess weight can put additional strain on your joints and worsen symptoms
- Stress Management: Chronic stress can worsen inflammation and pain. Relaxation exercises, meditation, and activities you enjoy can help you feel less stressed
Before beginning any new self-care protocols, please talk to us for personalized (and safe-for-you) recommendations.
Think you may have bursitis of the hip?
If you're dealing with bursitis symptoms, you don't need to stay in pain. Our chiropractors in Aptos are available to help you get relief and return to your favorite activities. Schedule an online appointment, and we'll create your personalized treatment plan.
Interested in understanding more about hip conditions?
Read our in-depth guide covering a wide range of hip-related conditions.
Learn more about hip conditions and how chiropractic helps here.