Pain Relief for Hip Bursitis

Updated April 17, 2017

Hip bursitis is a typically painful condition in which the hip bursae, which are small, fluid-filled sacs located on the lateral edges of the hip joint, become inflamed. Although hip bursitis is rarely serious, it can significantly impact normal hip joint functioning and make normal physical functioning painful and difficult. However, there are effective treatment options for hip bursitis.


Hip bursitis typically responds well to brief periods of rest in which the affected area is protected from excessive and/or unnecessary movement. Most cases of hip bursitis present with, in addition to the inflamed hip bursae, significant inflammation and swelling of the muscles and soft tissues in close proximity to the hip bursae. Resting these areas and protecting them from excessive motion and/or physical irritation can reduce the swelling and irritation, which leads to reduced pain levels.

Pain Medication

Treating hip bursitis with pain medication is an effective treatment strategy that can significantly reduce pain levels and improve function. Most cases of hip bursitis can be effectively treated by using non-prescription pain medications, typically the non-steroidal-anti-inflammatory medications, or NSAIDs. These medications reduce soft tissue swelling and inflammation, which leads to reduced pain levels. For severe cases of painful hip bursitis, more powerful prescription-based pain medications such as OxyContin and Hydrocodone may be necessary. These types of medications are generally narcotic and/or opiate-based formulations that, while being very powerful pain relievers, tend to produce unpleasant side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness and extreme lethargy.


Physiotherapy treatments can be an effective treatment option for treating and/or managing hip bursitis. Many times hip bursitis can be caused and/or aggravated by tight, stiff muscles and tendons rubbing against and/or constricting the affected hip bursae, which can cause the bursae to become irritated and painful. Using physiotherapy treatments to stretch these muscles and tendons and make them less constrictive to the hip bursae can help reduce hip bursitis pain and manage chronic cases. Typical physiotherapy treatments include hip-specific stretches, massage and ice/heat treatments

Injection Therapy

Injection therapy is often used to treat severe and/or chronic cases of hip bursitis, cases that produce marked swelling of the hip bursae as well as significant pain levels. Injection therapy normally involves injecting the painful hip bursa sacs with a small amount of corticosteroid (normally cortisone), which is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. The injected medication helps to shrink the inflamed hip bursae as well as the irritated muscles and soft tissues in the area. This generally leads to significant reductions in both pain and swelling of the affected bursae.


In rare cases of severe and/or chronic hip bursitis, surgery is sometimes used to remove the affected hip bursae. This is generally a last resort treatment for cases that fail to respond adequately to less-invasive forms of treatment over a long period of time. The surgery itself is a relatively minor procedure, requiring only a small incision on the lateral edge of the affected hip joint, through which the affected bursae can be isolated and removed. As with any type of surgical procedure, there are complications that can arise, most typically infection and poor healing of the surgical site.

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