By SUSAN CALLAHAN, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
If you're having hip pain, chances are it's trochanteric bursitis. This hard-to-pronounce condition is the most common cause of hip pain, according to . What is trochanteric bursitis? What causes it? Are there any natural remedies that actually work? Is it progressive?
Trochanteric bursitis is caused by the inflammation of fluid sacs called "bursa" surrounding the outer portion of the hip called the "trochanter". Trochanteric bursitis is quite painful and affects 5 to 6 out of every 1000 adults in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control. With trochanteric bursitis, you will find it painful to turn your hip outward, inward and it can be painful to touch. The pain also may travel down your leg from your hip.
You are at higher risk for trochanteric bursitis is you are a runner. Growing older also raises your risk as the condition disproportionately affects people 40 and older. Women, for reasons unclear to scientists, are affected by trochanteric bursitis between 6 to 8 times more often than men.
The good news is that your hip joint itself is not the cause.
The second bit of good news is that trochanteric bursitis responds well to conservative, non-surgical, natural remedies in 90% of cases, according to a 2013 study by a team of doctors from The Ohio State University Sports Medicine Center.
Natural Remedies for Trochanteric Bursitis
1. Lose Weight to Relieve Trochanteric Bursitis Pain
Suddenly, your hip doesn't want to move without pain anymore. Dropping a few pounds can help. Trochanteric bursitis is improved by losing weight, according to a 2016 study from State University of Novi Pazar in Serbia. You are more likely to experience improvement in your symptoms if you are already overweight.
How much weight should you lose to improve trochanteric bursitis? At one point as you walk, each hip alone bears all of your upper body weight. You then stand on two feet for a brief time before you enter a new single-leg phase of walking. During the single-leg phase, your hip must bear the upper body weight while it also allows your free leg to swing through. This load-bearing (of your upper body) plus dynamic load (carrying your swinging free leg) exerts a toll on your hip over time.
You should aim to come as close as possible to your ideal body weight. But, at the very least, try to lose 5% of any excess weight you are carrying around. The weight loss will lessen the strain you put on each hip during the single-leg phase of walking.
By the way, speaking of legs, there is a persistent belief out there that having legs of different lengths puts you at greater risk for trochanteric bursitis. Not so. Having legs of different lengths is not associated with a greater risk for trochanteric bursitis, according to a 2008 study from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
2. Decrease Physical Activity to Give Your Hip a Rest
If you are a runner with trochanteric bursitis, it is important to stop. Just stop. You simply have to give your bursa a chance to heal. You should immediately decrease physical activity when you feel pain in your hip or anywhere else for that matter. Do not resume exercise without first consulting your doctor.
3. Use Cold Compresses to Heal Bursa
Inflamed bursa can be encouraged to heal with the use of cold compresses. Apply a cold, wet cloth directly to the hip area. Repeat for 30 minutes each day, once in the morning and once at night.
4. Consider NSAIDs to Ease Bursa Pain
Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen are effective in relieving the pain of trochanteric bursitis in many cases.
Be aware, however, that long-term use of certain NSAIDs can damage your liver. You also should also be aware that it can be surprisingly easy to overdose on ibuprofen.
Some sources also recommend the use of paracetamol,marketed as Tylenol in the US, to combat pain of inflamed bursa.
5. After Inflammation Subsides, Stretch and Strengthen Your Hip with Exercise
After the bursa inflammation subsides, stretch and strengthen your hip muscles with targeted exercises.
To stretch your hip, use a foam hip roller. Lie on the roller with the hip touching the middle of the roller and simply roll gently on the roller.
Stretching exercises that focus on your lower back and sacroiliac joints should help prevent future bouts of trochanteric bursitis, according to a 2009 study from Moses Cone Family Residency Program in Greensboro, North Carolina.