Hip bursitis can be one of the more frustrating conditions with pain during the day while walking and pain at night when you roll on your side. The condition, called Trochanteric Bursitis, is often the result of another underlying pathology such as hip arthritis, which puts more load across the side of the hip and causes an inflammation in the pad that sits between the tendon and the bone.
The most effective treatments for hip bursitis addresses both the cause as well as the bursitis itself. Treatment should have a fairly rapid impact on your levels of pain because as long as you’re limping, the bursa is under increased pressure and will continue to react. So once the cause has been identified, the bursitis can be addressed simultaneously with exercises and use of anti inflammatory gel or tablets. The reason most treatment approaches are slow to progress or not successful is they often look at exercise approaches, medication and treating the cause in isolation without effectively combining all approaches to address everything with the quickest possible recovery time.
The exercise approach for bursitis must tread carefully to not put additional pressure on the bursa. So exercises that are too heavy or too unstable can often make things worse. Vice versa, exercises that are too gentle or don’t relate to hip function, such as clams or band exercises, will just progress too slowly and never get on top of the symptoms.
Our favourite approach for bursitis involves a combination of isometric exercises, where you hold a position to improve strength and relieve pain, and strength exercises through range which mimic activities like walking down stairs or sitting, but without irritating the bursa. We find that most people with hip bursitis begin seeing an improvement within the first week and the majority see the condition resolved within 5-6 weeks.
So if you’re finding that your condition isn’t responding to the classic approaches, have a think about whether your treatment options are being effectively combined or whether your rehab is inadvertently causing further irritation.
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