top of page
  • Writer's pictureMiracle Rehab Clinic

Physical Therapy for Hip Bursitis: A Comprehensive Guide

Hip bursitis is a common condition that affects many individuals, causing discomfort and limiting mobility in the hip area. Whether you're an athlete dealing with the consequences of repetitive motion or someone whose daily activities put pressure on the hip, understanding hip bursitis and its management is essential for a smoother road to recovery.


In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of hip bursitis, exploring its causes, signs, and symptoms, as well as physical therapy for hip bursitis. We'll also provide insights into the types of exercises recommended for relief and offer guidance on whether individuals with hip bursitis can perform physical therapy exercises at home.


What Is Hip Bursitis? 


Hip bursitis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in the hip area. It occurs when the bursae, small fluid-filled sacs that act as cushions between bones and soft tissues, become inflamed. The hip has several bursae, but the one most commonly affected is the trochanteric bursa, located on the outer part of the hip.


This condition can result from a variety of factors. Repetitive motions or pressure on the hip, common in certain sports or activities, can lead to bursitis. It may also arise from an injury or direct impact to the hip area. 


Symptoms typically include pain on the outer hip and thigh, which can be sharp and intense or a dull ache. The pain often worsens with prolonged sitting, climbing stairs, or lying on the affected side. Hip bursitis can limit mobility and make daily activities challenging.


Treatment typically involves rest, ice, and medications to reduce pain and inflammation and physical therapy for hip bursitis. Physical therapy exercises can strengthen the hip muscles and improve flexibility. 

hip bursistis pain


What Causes Hip Bursitis?


Hip bursitis is primarily caused by repetitive stress or overuse, making it common among athletes and individuals engaging in activities involving extensive hip movement. 


It can also stem from direct trauma to the hip, such as a fall or bump, leading to inflammation of the bursae. Prolonged pressure on the hip, as seen in certain occupations or habits like sitting for long periods, can contribute to its development. 


Other contributing factors include underlying conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and spine problems. Additionally, anatomical issues such as hip misalignment or leg length discrepancy can increase the risk of developing hip bursitis.

hip joint pain


Signs and Symptoms of Hip Bursitis 


Hip bursitis manifests through various signs and symptoms, primarily centered around discomfort and mobility issues in the hip area. The most notable symptom is pain at the site of the trochanteric bursa on the outer part of the hip. 


This pain often starts as sharp and intense during initial movements, then gradually becomes a dull, aching sensation. It can extend along the outer thigh, sometimes radiating to the knee.


The pain typically worsens with specific activities, such as climbing stairs, squatting, or lying on the affected side. Prolonged sitting or standing can also aggravate the discomfort, as can any activity that puts pressure on the hip area. 


Sometimes, the pain may be severe enough to interfere with sleep, especially when lying on the affected side. Swelling and tenderness in the hip area are common, and the skin over the bursa might feel warm to the touch, indicating inflammation. Stiffness in the hip joint, leading to a reduced range of motion, is another symptom that can hinder daily activities.


Early recognition and physical therapy for hip bursitis can help get relief faster.

hip bursitis symptoms


Diagnosis of Hip Bursitis 


Diagnosing hip bursitis typically involves a combination of clinical evaluation and diagnostic tests. The process starts with a detailed medical history and a physical examination and ends with a plan for physical therapy for hip bursitis pain. 


Medical History: The healthcare provider will ask about the onset, duration, and nature of the symptoms, as well as any recent injuries or activities that might have contributed to the condition. Questions about past medical history, including any history of arthritis or bursitis in other joints, are also common.


Physical Examination: During the exam, the doctor will assess for tenderness over the bony prominence of the hip, which is indicative of trochanteric bursitis. They may also perform specific movements to evaluate pain and range of motion in the hip joint. 


Imaging Tests: While the diagnosis of hip bursitis is often made based on history and physical exam, imaging tests can be helpful in ruling out other conditions. X-rays can exclude bone-related problems, and an MRI or ultrasound can be used to visualize the bursa and surrounding tissues for signs of inflammation and rule out muscle or tendon injuries.


Additional Tests: In some cases, blood tests may be conducted to rule out infection or systemic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, and in rare instances, fluid from the bursa might be aspirated to rule out infection.


How Does Physical Therapy Help Manage Hip Bursitis? 


Physical therapy for bursitis helps manage it by reducing pain, improving joint function, and preventing future flare-ups. The primary goal is to alleviate the inflammation of the bursa and address any underlying biomechanical issues contributing to the condition.


  • Pain and Inflammation Reduction: Physical therapists employ techniques like ultrasound therapy, ice application, and electrical stimulation to reduce inflammation and pain in the affected area. These modalities help decrease discomfort and make it easier to perform exercises and daily activities.

  • Strengthening Exercises: Weakness in the hip muscles, particularly the abductors and rotators, can exacerbate bursitis. Physical therapists design targeted exercise programs to strengthen these muscles, thereby reducing the stress on the bursa. 

  • Stretching and Flexibility: Tight muscles around the hip can increase pressure on the bursa. Physical therapy includes stretching exercises to improve flexibility in the hip flexors, hamstrings, and iliotibial band, which helps in alleviating the strain on the hip.

  • Improving Biomechanics and Gait Training: Therapists assess and correct biomechanical issues, such as improper gait or posture, that can contribute to hip bursitis. Gait training and posture education are integral to ensuring long-term relief.

  • Education and Activity Modification: Physical therapists provide guidance on how to modify daily activities and ergonomics to prevent aggravation of symptoms and reduce the risk of recurrence.


Exercises for Hip Bursitis 


Managing hip bursitis effectively often includes a regimen of specific physical therapy exercises for bursitis of the hip aimed at reducing pain, increasing strength, and improving flexibility. 


Hip Strengthening Exercises:

  • Glute Bridges: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips towards the ceiling, squeezing the glutes, then slowly lower back down.

  • Clamshells: Lie on your side with your knees bent. Keeping feet together, open your top knee as far as possible without shifting your hips, then slowly close it.

Stretching Exercises:

  • Iliotibial Band Stretch: Stand and cross your affected leg behind the other. Lean to the opposite side until you feel a stretch on the outside of your hip.

  • Hip Flexor Stretch: Kneel on the affected side and push your hips forward, keeping your back straight.

Range of Motion Exercises:

Hip Abductions: Lie on your side with your legs straight. Raise the top leg upwards, keeping it straight, then slowly lower it.

Balance Exercises:

  • Single-Leg Stance: Stand and lift one foot off the ground, balancing on the other leg. Hold onto a stable surface if necessary.


These physical therapy exercises for hip bursitis not only target the muscles around the hip but also contribute to overall pelvic stability, which is crucial for managing hip bursitis. 

hip bursitis exercise


How Long Does it Take to Recover from a Hip Bursitis?


Recovery time from hip bursitis can vary greatly depending on the individual case, including the severity of the condition and adherence to treatment protocols. Generally, with appropriate treatment such as physical therapy, medication, and lifestyle modifications, patients may begin to experience symptom relief within a few weeks. 


However, complete recovery can take several months. It's important to follow the treatment plan diligently and avoid activities that exacerbate the condition. Consistent engagement in prescribed exercises and therapies is key to a successful recovery. In some cases, particularly where underlying chronic conditions are involved, management of symptoms may be an ongoing process.


Frequently Asked Questions


How can physical therapy help manage hip bursitis pain? 


Physical therapy can significantly help manage hip bursitis pain through various interventions. Therapists use modalities like ice therapy and ultrasound to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.

Stretching exercises are employed to improve flexibility in the hip and surrounding muscles, reducing tension and pressure on the bursa. Strengthening exercises aim to bolster the muscles around the hip joint, enhancing stability and offloading stress from the inflamed bursa.

Additionally, therapists guide patients in proper movement and posture techniques to prevent aggravating the condition. These targeted strategies not only address current pain but also aid in preventing future episodes of hip bursitis.


What types of exercises are recommended for hip bursitis relief? 


For hip bursitis relief, specific exercises focused on strengthening and stretching the hip area are recommended:

  • Strengthening Exercises: These include glute bridges, side leg raises, and clamshells. They target the muscles around the hips, particularly the glutes and abductors, to provide better support and reduce strain on the bursa.

  • Stretching Exercises: Incorporating stretches for the iliotibial band, hip flexors, and hamstrings can alleviate tightness and reduce pressure on the hip joint. Examples include standing IT band stretches and seated hamstring stretches.

  • Range of Motion Exercises: Gentle movements like hip circles and pendulum swings can help maintain joint mobility without aggravating the bursa.


Can Individuals With Hip Bursitis Do Physical Therapy Exercises At Home? 


Individuals with hip bursitis can perform physical therapy exercises at home, which is often a key part of their treatment plan. However, it's crucial that a qualified physical therapist initially teaches these exercises to ensure they are performed correctly and safely.


The therapist can design a personalized exercise program that addresses the individual's specific needs and symptoms. This program typically includes gentle stretching, strengthening, and range-of-motion exercises. Consistency in performing these exercises at home can significantly aid in reducing pain and improving hip function.

hip bursitis pain back

Final Thoughts 

In this journey to understand and manage hip bursitis, we've explored the causes, signs, and symptoms of this common condition. We've learned about the crucial role that physical therapy plays in reducing pain, improving joint function, and preventing future flare-ups. With targeted exercises and expert guidance, individuals with hip bursitis can regain their mobility and comfort.

Recovery from hip bursitis may vary, but with dedication to treatment and exercises, relief can be achieved in a matter of weeks to months. It's essential to follow the prescribed treatment plan diligently and communicate with healthcare professionals to ensure a successful recovery. Contact Miracle Rehab Clinic and find an appointment today.

458 views0 comments


Recent Posts

Our Locations

We Also Accept Clients From These Locations

bottom of page