Physiotherapy Q&A : How can I quickly recover from hip pain ‘trochanteric bursitis’

I have been told by my GP that the hip pain I have been getting regularly over the last few months is something called ‘trochanteric bursitis’. He has advised on rest but I am keen to go skiing in the New Year. How can I help get rid of this problem before January and is skiing likely to do any damage?

Trochanteric bursitis is a condition which produces pain over the boney part of the hip joint and can refer down the outside of the leg. It is a common condition in which the small soft tissue sacks which sit around the hip joint and produce the fluid which helps to lubricate the joint (bursa) become irritated and inflamed.

The reason your GP has advised rest is because this is essentially an inflammatory problem and the inflammation needs time to settle. It usually responds well to rest, anti-inflammatory medication and painkillers but if it persists it would be advisable to see a physiotherapist who could help identify the primary cause of this inflammation. Often it is the case that certain muscles that provide stability to the hip joint are not doing their job as well as they could and if these are retrained, this helps to prevent the poor movement pattern that is causing the inflammation.

In terms of whether skiing would cause any damage, this is difficult to say. Skiing will place extra demand on the hip and the muscles that need to stabilise the joint. If these have not been fully retrained to cope with the demands of the twisting, turning and weight bearing components of skiing the condition could flare up again which would limit your abilities (and enjoyment!) with skiing.

Matthew Carr Chartered Physiotherapist

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Page last reviewed on 12/12/2013