Bursitis is caused by inflammation of a bursa, a small jelly-like sac that usually contains a small amount of fluid. Bursae are located throughout the body, most importantly around the shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, and heel. They act as cushions between bones and the overlying soft tissues, and help reduce friction between the gliding muscles and the bone.
The bony point of the hip is called the greater trochanter. It is an attachment point for muscles that move the hip joint. The trochanter has a fairly large bursa overlying it that occasionally becomes irritated, resulting in hip bursitis (trochanteric bursitis).
Another bursa located on the inside (groin side) of the hip is called the iliopsoas bursa. When this bursa becomes inflamed, the condition is also sometimes referred to as hip bursitis, but the pain is located in the groin area. This condition is not as common as trochanteric bursitis, but is treated in a similar manner.
The main symptom of hip 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, it may feel more achy and spread out.
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.
To diagnosis hip bursitis, the doctor will perform a comprehensive physical examination, looking for tenderness in the area of the point of the hip. He or she may also perform additional tests to rule out other possible injuries or conditions. These tests can include radiography (x-rays), bone scanning, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).