Trochanteric Bursitis

What is trochanteric bursitis?

Trochanteric BursitisThe trochanteric bursa (a think piece of jelly like tissue) is located on the outside area of the hip overlying the thigh bone (femur). This bursa cushions the hip bone, muscles and tendon of the thigh and buttocks. The bursa acts as a shock absorber. Inflammation of this bursa is referred to as trochanteric bursitis and presents as tenderness in outer side of the hip area. The inflammation is typically one on side of the body. Individuals who most commonly get trochanteric bursitis are people in middle age and who are elderly. Research shows that  women are four times more likely to get trochanteric bursitis when compared with men.

About 2 in every 1,000 people have trochanteric bursitis. 

What are the signs and symptoms of trochanteric bursitis?

The signs and symptoms of trochanteric bursitis include:

  • Tenderness when touching the greater trochanter including lying or sleeping on the side;
  • Moderate to severe pain in the outside of the hip region;
  • Pain that may travel to the thigh that does not involve hip joint itself;
  • Swelling in the region of trochanteric bursa caused by the accumulation of fluid;
  • Reduced mobility of the hip joint;
  • Reduced performance of physical activities such as running, walking or even (if the bursitis is severe) standing.

What causes trochanteric bursitis?

Direct or indirect trauma to the bursa may lead to inflammation of the bursa. If the bursa is inflamed for too long, it may become calcified (accumulation of calcium deposits).

The following risk factors are strongly associated with the development of trochanteric bursitis:

  • Hip surgery (especially lateral hip)
  • Long-standing inflammation of sacro-iliac joint;
  • Differences in leg-length which can be due to surgery, trauma, genetic or muscle tightness). Even a difference of one inch in leg length is enough to cause significant stress and pressure on the bursa of the shorter leg;
  • Activities such as excessive running or jogging, cycling, prolonged standing, frequent stair climbing;
  • Occupational injuries especially those received in contact sports or from frequent falls in activities such as ice hockey and skiing;
  • Repetitive injury of ilio-tibial band as a result of excessive stretching
  • Long-standing disc degenerative conditions or arthritis of the hip joint;
  • Systemic diseases such as gout
  • A sedentary lifestyle in which muscles and joints are not exercised can cause trochanteric bursitis to develop spontaneously.


How is trochanteric bursitis treated?

There are several ways in which trochanteric bursitis depending on the cause. Some ways that trochanteric bursitis can be treated includes modalities to address the inflammation, stretching tight muscles, strengthening weak muscles, education, acupuncture and the prescription of orthotics. Please contact us at 416-900-6653 and we will be happy to help you out.


  • Sharon Gabison

    Registered Physiotherapist BSc, BScPT, MSc, PhD: A graduate of the University of Toronto in Human Biology, Sharon completed her Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto. She went on to pursue further graduate work, completing her Master of Science from the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute and a PhD from the Institute of Medical Science both from the University of Toronto. Her interest in Physiotherapy originated while pursuing her first undergraduate degree while struggling with postural challenges and seeking physiotherapy treatment. Her interest in medicine, working with people, and developing and adhering to therapeutic plans inspired her to pursue a career in Physiotherapy. Her interest in research, orthopaedics, neurology, therapeutic agents and pressure injuries (bed sores) lead her to pursue graduate work. Sharon emphasizes a holistic approach to rehabilitation. Her experience of raising a son with a disability has continued to inform her career that has spanned over 25 years. She is able to appreciate the rehabilitation process not only from the professional perspective, but from the client perspective. Her extensive knowledge of biomechanics, orthopaedics, exercise prescription, electrophysical agents with a strong background in research enables her to provide evidence based treatment when designing and implementing rehabilitation plans. With a special interest in patient and family engagement through her volunteer work, Sharon is able to ensure that treatment that is provided takes into consideration the unique challenges that individuals may experience when adhering to treatment recommendations in their busy lives.

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