Bursitis is the term used for inflammation of a bursa. A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that lies between tissues to prevent friction and injury. You can have bursitis at multiple places in your body; however one of the more common places is overlying the greater trochanter, which is a bony protrusion on the outside of the femur (leg bone).
Bursitis is frequently described as sharp, gnawing and burning. It usually is a result of repetitive activities, and thus, you may experience the pain with performance of that activity or may even feel pain with gentle pushing or pressure on the affected area. For example, greater trochanteric bursitis is pain along the outside portion (lateral aspect) of the femur (upper leg bone). Pain is experienced when you or someone touches the affected area, when you lay on the effected side, and with activities such as walking, running or climbing stairs. Pain may also be reproduced while sitting with the leg crossed over the opposite knee.
Bursitis is caused by inflammation of the bursa. Usually this occurs with repetitive movement and activities, improper gait, or use of a cane, causing additional stress on the bursa or poor posture. Bursitis may also develop as part of a group of symptoms associated with chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis or gout.
Treatment for bursitis may include a referral to a pain management specialist. At the JLR Center for Pain Medicine, your physician will work with you to design a treatment plan tailored for you. The care plan will vary, depending on your specific symptoms and examination. On the initial visit, a thorough history and physical exam will be performed. Early treatment focuses on confirmation of the diagnosis and the initiation of a treatment plan to alleviate pain.
Your treatment plan may involve some lifestyle modifications, evaluation of your gait, rest, ice, physical therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories if your medical history allows, and topical creams and patches. If pain is not improved with some of these modifications, you and your pain management physician may discuss injection therapy. Injection therapy usually consists of injecting local anesthetic and steroids directly into the bursa. This may be done under x-ray guidance, but may also be done by feeling for bony landmarks. Rarely, surgery is needed to help relieve the pain associated with bursitis.