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Trochanteric Bursitis Physical Therapy Guide & Exercises

Trochanteric Bursitis Physical Therapy Guide & Exercises

Are simple activities like walking, sitting, or lying down becoming excruciating due to persistent lateral hip pain? You might be dealing with Trochanteric Bursitis, a common condition affecting people of all ages. Did you know that about 15% of women and 8% of men experience this discomfort? While middle-aged women are most commonly affected, young female athletes aren’t immune.

This article will explore trochanteric bursitis, its symptoms, causes, and how physical therapy can be a game-changer in managing and alleviating pain. We’ll also share a carefully curated list of exercises seamlessly integrating into your routine, helping you achieve pain relief, improved mobility, and overall hip health.

At Backcountry Physical Therapy, we specialize in treating trochanteric bursitis with personalized plans. Our experienced therapists design targeted exercises and techniques to manage pain and foster long-term recovery. With our customized approach, you can look forward to effective pain management and optimal hip health.

What is Trochanteric Bursitis?

Trochanteric Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa located at the greater trochanter, which is the bony prominence on the side of the hip. Bursae are tiny, fluid-filled sacs that provide cushioning between bones and soft tissues, reducing friction and enabling smooth movement.

The bursa is a cushion between the greater trochanter and the iliotibial band, a band of tissues that runs outside the thigh from the hip to the knee. When the bursa becomes irritated or inflamed, it can cause significant pain and discomfort in the hip area, a condition known as trochanteric bursitis.

A study shows that greater trochanteric pain syndrome (GTPS) is standard. The best prevalence estimates are from a large, community-based study with over 3000 adults aged 50 to 70, in which unilateral GTPS was present in 15 percent of females and 6.6 percent of males.

What Are the Symptoms of Trochanteric Bursitis?

What Are the Symptoms of Trochanteric Bursitis?

Recognizing the symptoms of hip bursitis early on allows for timely intervention and management.

  • Hip Pain: Hip pain is characterized by a dull ache, a deep, aching sensation, and lateral hip pain in the outer part of the hip. It can range from mild to severe and may be constant or come and go intermittently. Many individuals describe this pain as a sharp and burning feeling that has the potential to radiate down the side of the thigh.
  • Pain When Lying on the Affected Side: Experiencing pain when lying on the affected side can make it challenging to find a comfortable sleeping position. The discomfort caused by trochanteric bursitis in this specific scenario can be debilitating.
  • Pain When Standing Up After Sitting: This discomfort worsens after long durations of sitting. It often occurs when individuals attempt to stand up from a seated position, causing increased pain and difficulty with mobility.
  • Pain When Moving or Using Your Hip: Experiencing pain when moving or engaging in daily physical activities that require hip movement, such as walking, climbing stairs, or running, can significantly worsen the hip bursitis pain caused by trochanteric bursitis.
  • Hip Swelling, Redness, and Warmth: When the bursa becomes inflamed, it can result in noticeable swelling, redness, and warmth in the hip region. This inflammation leads to increased blood flow to the affected area, causing visible changes in the hip’s appearance.
  • Limited Movement and Weakened Muscles: Trochanteric Bursitis can decrease the hip’s range of motion, leading to stiffness and weakening of the surrounding muscles over time.
  • Joint Stiffness and a Catching and Clicking Sensation: Stiffness in the hip joint and a sensation of catching or clicking during movement can be symptoms of trochanteric bursitis. These symptoms can affect mobility and daily activities.

What Causes Trochanteric Bursitis?

  • Repetitive Motions: Repetitive motions, such as running, cycling, or climbing, can cause irritation and inflammation of the trochanteric bursa due to continuous hip movements
  • Hip Injuries: Injuries to the hip can be caused by traumatic incidents, like falling or receiving direct trauma, and these incidents can lead to damage to the bursa, resulting in trochanteric bursitis.
  • Poor Posture: Standing or sitting can strain the hip bursa, leading to inflammation.
  • Hip Surgery or Prosthetic Implants: Surgical procedures and prosthetic implants in the hip can sometimes lead to trochanteric bursitis, particularly in individuals with underlying musculoskeletal conditions.
  • Muscle Tears and Diseases Such as Gout: Muscle Tears and Diseases Such as Gout and Rheumatoid Arthritis: Muscle tears and medical conditions such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis, which cause joint inflammation and damage, can contribute to the onset of hip bursitis pain.
  • Bone Spurs and Leg Length Discrepancy: Bone spurs can irritate the bursa, and having legs of different lengths can alter gait mechanics, increasing the risk of trochanteric bursitis.

Exercises for Trochanteric Bursitis

Incorporating specific trochanteric bursitis physical therapy exercises into your routine can significantly alleviate the symptoms of trochanteric bursitis and prevent its recurrence. Here are some recommended exercises:


Strengthen the outer hip muscles, providing stability and support. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and flat on the ground, lower your body as if sitting in a chair, and return to standing.

Standing Hip Lifts

Target the hip abductors. Stand straight, lift one leg to the side without bending your knee, hold for a few seconds, then lower. Another effective exercise is hip bridges.

Standing Hip Extension

To strengthen the gluteal muscles, stand on one leg, extend the other backward while keeping it straight, and return to the starting position.

Inner Hip Strengthening

Lie on your side with your legs stacked. Lift the top leg upward, hold briefly, then lower. This targets the inner thigh muscles.

Full Leg Lifts

Lie on your back with your legs straight. Lift one leg toward the ceiling while keeping it straight, hold briefly, then lower. Repeat with the other leg.

Side Lunges

Stand with feet together, step one leg out to the side, bend the knee, and push hips back as if sitting. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

Lateral Walk with Resistance Band

Place a resistance band around your thighs, just above your knees. Take small steps to the side at a 45-degree angle while keeping the band taut. This strengthens the hip abductors.

3-Way Leg Kicks While Standing

Stand on one leg and perform leg kicks in three directions: forward, to the side, and backwards. Repeat with the other leg.

Single Leg Balance

Improve stability by standing on one leg for as long as possible, then switching. Maintain proper alignment from the standing position, engaging the core, abdominal muscles, and hip stabilizers.

Seated Hamstring Stretch

Sit on the floor with one leg extended and the other bent. Reach toward the toes of the extended leg and hold the hamstring and hip flexor stretch for 15-30 seconds.

Hip Flexor Stretch

Kneel on one knee with the other foot in front. Push your hips forward while keeping your back straight, feeling the stretch in the front of the hip.

Standing Quad Stretch

Stand on one leg, grab the ankle of the other leg, and pull it toward your buttocks. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds, then switch legs.

The Role of Physical Therapy for Trochanteric Bursitis

The Role of Physical Therapy for Trochanteric Bursitis

The primary goal of physical therapy treatment is to manage and alleviate trochanteric bursitis through targeted physical therapy, including hip bursitis exercises, manual therapy, and posture and movement mechanics education.

A study shows that over 90% of people with greater trochanteric pain syndrome recover fully with conservative treatment such as rest, pain relief, physiotherapy, and corticosteroid injection.

A qualified physical therapist can create a personalized treatment plan that includes exercises for trochanteric bursitis, manual therapy, and posture and movement mechanics education. By addressing the underlying causes and providing targeted interventions, a physical therapist can use physical therapy to significantly reduce pain, improve function, and prevent future flare-ups.

Benefits of Physical Therapy

  • Pain Reduction: Targeted exercises and manual therapy can help reduce inflammation and hip bursitis pain associated with trochanteric bursitis.
  • Improved Mobility: Restoring the range of motion in the hip joint allows for better mobility and function.
  • Strength Building: A structured exercise program aimed at strengthening the muscles around the hip provides better support and stability, reducing the strain on the bursa.
  • Postural Re-education: Improving posture and movement patterns can alleviate pressure on the hip bursa. Treatments for hip bursitis address root causes such as muscle imbalances, poor posture, and gait abnormalities.
  • Treatment of Underlying Causes: Physical therapy addresses root causes such as muscle imbalances, poor posture, and gait abnormalities.
  • Prevention of Future Issues: Enhancing strength, flexibility, and movement mechanics helps prevent the recurrence of trochanteric bursitis and maintains a healthy activity level.

What to Expect From Trochanteric Bursitis Physical Therapy

When beginning physical therapy for trochanteric bursitis, you can expect a thorough assessment by a physical therapist to identify specific factors contributing to your condition. Based on this evaluation, a personalized treatment plan will be developed, including hip bursitis exercises, manual therapy, and posture and movement mechanics education. Based on this evaluation, a customized treatment plan will be created, including:

  • Manual Therapy: Manual therapy techniques such as massage and joint mobilization to reduce pain and improve mobility.
  • Exercise Prescription: Customized exercises to strengthen and stretch the hip muscles.
  • Education: Guidance on proper posture, body mechanics, and lifestyle modifications to prevent further irritation of the bursa.
  • Modalities: Use of ultrasound, heat, ice, or electrical stimulation to manage pain and inflammation.

Consistent adherence to the prescribed physical therapy program is crucial for achieving optimal results and long-term relief from trochanteric bursitis.


Trochanteric Bursitis can be a debilitating condition, but with the right approach, including targeted physical therapy, specific exercises, and occasionally a steroid injection, it is possible to manage and alleviate the symptoms effectively. Understanding the causes and symptoms of trochanteric bursitis and incorporating a targeted exercise program into your routine can reduce hip bursitis pain, improve mobility, enhance your overall hip health, and improve your quality of life. Consulting a qualified healthcare provider, such as a physical therapist, is essential for developing a personalized treatment plan that addresses your unique needs, provides medical advice, and promotes long-term recovery.


What is the best treatment for trochanteric bursitis?

The best treatment often involves a combination of rest, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and lifestyle modifications. It is important to explore various treatment options, and in severe cases, corticosteroid injections or surgical intervention, such as corticosteroid injection, may be necessary.

What is the main cause of trochanteric bursitis?

The main cause is inflammation of the bursa at the greater trochanter, often caused by repetitive motions, hip injuries, poor posture, or underlying conditions such as muscle tears or bone spurs.

What happens if bursitis is left untreated?

If left untreated, bursitis can lead to chronic pain, limited mobility, and muscle weakness. Over time, the inflammation may worsen, causing further damage to the bursa and surrounding tissues.

a man standing with his arms crossed in front of him.

Dr. Scott Runyon

Backcountry Physical Therapy

We Help Mountain Athletes Not Only Recover From Injuries, But Build Them Back Stronger Than They Were Before, So That Injuries Are Less Likely To Happen Again!