DEAR DOCTOR K: I was just diagnosed with hip bursitis. What will my treatment entail?
DEAR READER: Your hip has several fluid-filled sacs, called bursae. They cushion the hip joint. When one of these sacs becomes irritated or inflamed, the condition is known as bursitis.
My patients use different words to describe the pain they have from bursitis: aching, burning, dull, sharp and radiating. The type and location of your pain depend on which bursa is affected.
Inflammation of the trochanteric bursa is the most common. The greater trochanter is the name of a bony bump on the side of your hip. Where is it, exactly? Put your fingers on the most outside part of your waist. Then run your fingers down the most outside part of your hip. About 3 to 5 inches below the waist you'll feel the bump. If you have inflammation of the trochanteric bursa, pushing on that bump will hurt.
The iliopsoas bursa lies between the front of the hip joint and one of the hip flexor muscles, near the groin. The pain it causes goes from the groin down the inner part of the thigh, toward the knee.
Ischial bursitis is, literally, a pain in the butt. It occurs when the bursa under one of the bones you sit on becomes inflamed. A hundred years ago it was called “tailor's bottom” because people who sit all day are more prone to getting it. (I guess that includes doctors who write newspaper columns.)
Treatment for any type of hip bursitis includes rest and ice. Pain relievers such as ibuprofen or naproxen also help. You'll need to reduce your activity until the symptoms subside; this usually takes a few weeks.