Bursae, are small, jelly-like sacs that are located throughout the body, including around the shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, and heel. They contain a small amount of fluid, and are positioned between bones and soft tissues, acting as cushions to help reduce friction.
Bursitis is inflammation of the bursa. There are two major bursae in the hip that typically become irritated and inflamed. One bursa covers the bony point of the hip bone called the greater trochanter. Inflammation of this bursa is called trochanteric bursitis.
The main symptom of trochanteric bursitis is pain at the point of the hip. The pain usually extends to the outside of the thigh area. In the early stages, the pain is usually described as sharp and intense. Later, the pain may become more of an ache and spread across a larger area of the hip.
Typically, the pain is worse at night, when lying on the affected hip, and when getting up from a chair after being seated for a while. It also may get worse with prolonged walking, stair climbing, or squatting.
Surgery is rarely needed for hip bursitis. If the bursa remains inflamed and painful after all nonsurgical treatments have been tried, your doctor may recommend surgical removal of the bursa. Removal of the bursa does not hurt the hip, and the hip can function normally without it.
A newer technique that is gaining popularity is arthroscopic removal of the bursa. In this technique, the bursa is removed through a small (1/4-inch) incision over the hip. A small camera, or arthroscope, is placed in a second incision so the doctor can guide miniature surgical instruments and cut out the bursa. This surgery is less invasive, and recovery is quicker and less painful.
Both types of surgeries are done on an outpatient (same-day) basis, so an overnight stay in the hospital is not usually necessary. Early studies show arthroscopic removal of the bursa to be quite effective with a faster recovery.
Following surgery, a short rehabilitation period can be expected. Most patients find that using a cane or crutches for a couple of days is helpful. It is reasonable to be up and walking around the evening after surgery. The soreness from surgery usually goes away after a few days.