If you’ve had hip bursitis you’ll certainly appreciate what a pain in the butt it can be- pun intended!
For all of my patients with this condition, getting some relief is their first objective. It is a particularly frustrating condition giving people pain when they sleep, walk or even sit the wrong way.
But what is actually happening when people experience pain on the side of their hip?
The bursa is a small fluid sack that runs between the muscle and the firm bone underneath. This acts as lubrication and allows the tendons and muscles to run smoothly over the bone. When this bursa becomes irritated or inflamed we might call this bursitis.
This often goes hand in hand with issues to the lateral gluteal muscles (Gluteus Medius/ Minimus).
So if we can decrease any compression and stress on the bursa this will help with your pain. But enough of the anatomy- let’s get into the tips!
1: Apply ice to the area
Putting ice on the sore/ irritated bursa will help to numb any pain and may help to reduce any inflammation in the area. Use the ice pack right on the side of the hip with a layer in between it and the skin. Keep on for approximately 10 minutes. Make sure it’s not too cold or causing any pain.
2: Reduce aggravating activities
Hip bursitis and gluteal tendinopathy are essentially overuse injuries caused by repetitive stress to the bursa. So it’s important that we help you identify the activity which is causing it- and reduce it to levels which cause less irritation. For some people this could be the amount of walking or running they are doing, whilst for others it could be long periods standing or carrying a young child.
3: Don’t cross your legs sitting
Over 90% of the hip bursitis patients who come in to see me end up crossing their legs whilst taking the history- an interesting trend! Unfortunately this habit causes extra stress on the bursa and stretch to the gluteal muscles. Focus on sitting with legs close to hip width apart with feet in line. I know it’s not very ladylike but your hips will thank you for it!
4: Adjust your walking
For many individuals, walking can become a painful movement. On top of adjusting the amount of walking you do, you should also make sure you you are not overstriding. The stretching that occurs with this can cause compression on the bursa and extra stretch and loading through the gluteal muscles.
5: Check your sleep setup and habits
Sleep can often be an uneasy time for people with this condition. If you are able to sleep on your back this is one of the easiest ways to reduce problems. A pillow under the knees helps to get alignment right and keep you in position.
If you’re much more comfortable sleeping on your side- here are a couple of tips:
- A soft/ eggshell mattress topper can reduce pressure when lying on your problematic side
- A pillow between the legs can help avoid the leg coming across the body too much when lying on the other side. It’s also a good idea to not bring the legs up too high in front. There are specially designed pillows for putting between the legs- one that even straps in between to keep it in place!
6: Seek help from health professionals
Whilst all of the above will hopefully help to reduce your pain, you will likely need a specific management plan to help fully resolve this condition. From a physiotherapy perspective there is more further advice and adjustments that people will need to make. There is also a graduated exercise program to rebuild strength in the surrounding muscles to reduce irritation to the area and prevent the issue returning in the future.
At times we may also need medical management in the form of scans, medications or injections through the GP or Rheumatologist. So don’t simply put up with the issue!
In the meantime, try these at home to start getting your pain down. Click through below if you want to get in contact and start to manage your hip bursitis!