ORA Surgeon, Dr. Andrew Bries, shares some insights on a common injury called bursitis, often the result – in the hip – of repetitive stress from sports such as running and bicycling. A specialist in sports medicine , shoulder surgery, and hip and knee surgery, Dr. Bries says the key to preventing bursitis in any joint is to strengthen muscles surrounding the joint.
As an orthopedic surgeon, I see patients suffering joint pain. Many times, it’s caused by bursitis. Anyone can get it, no matter what their age, because it’s often caused by repetitive stress.
The bursae are small, jelly-like sacs throughout your body that are positioned between bones and soft tissues to cushion and help reduce friction between your bones.
Hip bursitis does tend to be more common in elderly women, because the muscles that stabilize the pelvic region weaken over time. This can cause a kind of wobbling as they walk, as the pelvis rocks back and forth. Their rocking walk causes friction that inflames the bursae.
The inflammation that can lead to hip bursitis is often caused by other kinds of repetitive stress as well. Running, bicycling, and standing for long periods of time have all been implicated. (For more risk factors, see this list from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.)
Hip bursitis can cause pain around the hip that sometimes worsens with prolonged walking, stair climbing, or squatting.
We see bursitis around the knee and shoulder as well. Wherever bursitis occurs, it is generally caused by muscle imbalance – either tightness or weakness – and/or poor form.
First, we need to diagnose bursitis, distinguishing it from other conditions, such as arthritis.
If you are determined to have bursitis, physical therapy will be the mainstay treatment.
You’ll learn how to stretch and strengthen the muscles around your affected joint and to correct the imbalance that caused the problem in the first place.
We may also suggest the limited use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen, and using a cane or walker to help relieve symptoms while you work on strengthening your muscles.
If you don’t experience relief from these therapies, we may suggest a steroid injection.
How to avoid bursitis:
Warm up with some light stretching before you exercise.
Include exercises to strengthen all of your muscle groups, to keep your muscles in balance with each other.
If you are just starting to exercise, build up gradually.
If you feel pain:
Stop the exercise immediately!
Avoid activities that aggravate the problem.
Rest that joint and apply ice.
Take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen.
If you experience ongoing pain, see your doctor for evaluation!