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Trochanteric Bursitis and Gluteus Medius Tears

Trochanteric bursitis generally responds well to conservative treatment, including:

  • Rest and ice to decrease irritation to the bursa and reduce pain
  • Proper stretching of the IT band (iliotibial band)
  • Medications such as NSAIDs to reduce pain and inflammation
  • A cortisone injection into the bursa to reduce inflammation

If these treatments do not provide relief, your sports medicine doctor may need to re-evaluate the source of your hip pain. You may also be referred to a surgeon to discuss your treatment options. An MRI may also be recommended.

Frequently Asked Questions about Bursitis and Bursas

What Is a Bursa?

hip pain caused by bursitis

Irritation of the bursa can cause pain.

At the side of the hip in the upper thigh, there is a bony bump called the greater trochanter. Three structures come together at this point: the trochanteric bursa, the gluteus medius muscle and the IT band.

The trochanteric bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac that pads the bone over the greater trochanter.

At times, this bursa can become inflamed, causing pain in the side of the hip. Bursitis can occur from direct pressure, after injury or with overuse. It is also linked to tears of the gluteus medius.

What Is a Gluteus Medius Tear?

The gluteus medius is one of the key muscles surrounding the hip. This muscle starts in the buttock and attaches at the greater trochanter, on the side of the hip. Contraction of this muscle allows us to lift our leg to the side (abduct).

Tendonitis or tears of this muscle can occur after injury or with long-term wear and tear. These tears generally cause pain and weakness on the side of the hip (not the groin).

The IT band is a stiff band of tissue. It runs along the outside (lateral part) of the leg from hip to knee. It extends over the prominence of the greater trochanter. It can become tight in this area.

What Are the Symptoms of Trochanteric Bursitis and Gluteus Medius Tears?

Bursitis causes pain and irritation on the outside of the hip. This is unlike pain from the hip joint, which generally occurs in the groin area or front of the hip. Most people with pain on the side of the hip simply have irritation of the bursa or iliotibial band. But, in severe cases, tendonitis or a tear of the gluteus muscle may be the problem. Tears in the gluteus muscle can cause pain at the side of the hip, too. This pain can extend to the buttock and result in weakness when lifting the leg to the side.

How Are Trochanteric Bursitis and Gluteus Medius Tears Diagnosed?

Your sports medicine physician can often diagnose bursitis based on your symptoms and by examining your hip. In severe cases, an MRI may be helpful to check for a muscle or tendon tear.

Sports Medicine Appointments & Referrals


Sports Medicine Locations

UC San Diego Health offers expertise in sports medicine within family medicine, orthopedics, surgery and rehab. Not all services are available at all locations.

La Jolla



Scripps Ranch