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Side of hip pain – Greater trochanteric pain syndrome


The greater trochanter is the bony prominence at the widest part of the hip. There is a bursa that protects the muscles and tendons that pass this boney area. This can become inflamed and cause pain over the general area of the outside of the hip.

What is a bursa?

Also known as trochanteric bursitis of the hip. 

The bursa is a fluid sac found around the body that protects the soft tissue from any prominent bony parts of the skeletal system. These can often be found around the joints. One which is situated on the side of your hip at its widest point and covers the bony part of your femur called the greater trochanter. The word Bursitis means inflammation of the bursa, this can be irritated and become swollen and painful.

What can cause Trochanteric bursitis? 

There can be many causes and your Physiotherapist can get a detailed history of the condition and assess you to see what has caused the issue and then find ways to prevent this returning in the future.

  • An injury or trauma to the side of your hip or pelvis that would irritate the bursa such as a fall or direct impact.
  • Friction from local muscles and tendons rubbing on the bursa. 
  • In repetitive movements such as running, cycling, going up stairs and standing for long periods
  • Can be seen with other conditions such as lower back pain
  • After hip surgery 
  • Alongside a tendon or muscle tear
  • Arthritis or gout 
  • A leg length difference which may cause an altered gait and increased strain over time to the outer side of the hip.

Treatments can include:

-Rest and or activity modification
– Pain relief medication
– Physiotherapy-including, exercises to strengthen the hip can take the pressure off the side of the thigh. Stretches and massage or dry needling can help release the tension in the back and the outer thigh muscles to relieve some symptoms.
-Orthotics to correct a leg length difference.
-If conservative management does not help then a corticosteroid may be offered if appropriate 

What is the Prognosis?

Most people around 90% will make a full recovery from this condition with conservative management such as rest, ice, Physiotherapy and activity modification and losing weight if appropriate. 

We advise an assessment with a professional therapist to diagnose the cause of the pain as other conditions can cause similar pain in this area. The therapist can advise and provide a plan to get back to being pain free and stop it returning again. If there is not a clear diagnosis scanning can be an option via diagnostic ultrasound scan or an MRI scan to clarify the extent of the inflammation and best course of treatment. In rare cases a referral to an orthopaedic surgeon is an option for very inflamed or a suspected  infected bursa.

For more information about Hip pain

This article was written by our team of specialist therapists at Perfect Balance Clinic. If you would like more specific advice about how our team can help you with this condition or symptoms you may be having, please complete the contact form below and one of the team will get back to you shortly.

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