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Hip bursitis

Overview of hip bursitis

Bursitis is the term used for inflammation of the bursae, which are fluid-filled sacs in your joints. Bursae cushion tendons, ligaments, and muscles and allow them to glide over bones in the joint. If you have bursitis, the bursae are irritated and swollen. This interferes with how they work, and causes pain.

There are two major bursae in the hip that tend to become irritated and inflamed. One covers the bony point on the hip bone, and the other is on the pelvis. It’s more common to have problems with the bursa on the hip bone.

If you are experiencing pain, discomfort, or limited mobility because of bursitis in your hip, an orthopedic doctor at Dignity Health can assess your symptoms and create a treatment plan that fits your needs. To see a specialist about hip bursitis, Find a Doctor near you.


Signs and symptoms of hip bursitis depend on which bursa is causing problems. In general, symptoms of hip bursitis include:

  • Hip pain
  • Tenderness
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Warmth

If the bursa on the bony point is affected, symptoms occur in the hip and extend to the thigh. The bursa on the pelvis causes symptoms in the groin.

The pain of hip bursitis tends to be worse at night, especially when lying on the hip. It can also worsen when sitting or walking for prolonged periods of time.

Hip bursitis can occur acutely, with a flare-up over a few hours or days, or be chronic, with inflammation lasting up to several weeks. Acute bursitis can become chronic if left untreated or activities continue.


Hip bursitis can stem from mechanical issues in the hip or can be related to underlying conditions. Hip bursitis commonly originates from the following:

  • Repetitive motion or overuse injuries such as running, biking, or stair climbing
  • Hip injury
  • Bone spurs
  • Unequal leg lengths
  • Spine conditions
  • Previous hip surgery

Bursitis can also come from inflammatory or medical conditions, such as:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Gout
  • Infection

Knowing the cause of your hip bursitis will be helpful when you work with your care team to treat it. Treatment may vary based on whether your bursitis is from an inflammatory condition or due to repetitive motion.

Risk factors

Hip bursitis can affect anyone but is most common in middle-aged and older women. It is not common in younger people.

The most significant risk factors for hip bursitis are the conditions that can cause it, including:

  • Repetitive motion or overuse injuries
  • Hip injury
  • Bone spurs
  • Unequal leg lengths
  • Spine conditions
  • Previous hip surgery
  • Rheumatoid arthritis


Hip bursitis cannot always be prevented, but there are steps you can take to keep inflammation from getting worse:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Get custom shoe inserts to correct leg length differences
  • Keep hip muscles strong and flexible
  • Try not to participate in activities that stress the hip joint

Additionally, you can thoroughly warm up when participating in sports or other physical activities and take breaks to allow your hips to rest. A physical therapist can also help you create a workout to build strength in your hips and avoid future injury.

The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.