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Why Can’t I Sleep on My Side? Hip Bursitis?

Tenderness to touch or pain when pressure is applied to the side of the hip bone often time may be an indication of hip bursitis. Bursitis is a condition in which the bursa, small fluid-filled sac that sits between a tendon and a bone, becomes inflamed and swollen. Numerous bursas throughout our body (shoulder, knee, hip, etc…) help protect our tendons from wear and tear as they insert onto a bony landmark.


In the case of our hip, the bursa is located over the outside part of the hip bone called the greater trochanter. This bony landmark is the site of attachment for our primary hip abductor muscle group, Gluteus Minimus and Medius. Inflammation of this bursa usually presents with sharp, intense, pin-pointed pain on the greater trochanter. The pain may also radiate down the side of the thigh to the level of the knee, however, usually it will not travel below the knee.


If bursitis is left untreated or improperly managed, the vicious cycle of inflammation and pain may lead to muscle weakness and atrophy, gait deviations and other joint involvements secondary to decreased mobility and inactivity. Although steroid injections may be indicated to reduce the inflammation, it is very important to identify the underlying cause of the bursitis in order to prevent a reoccurrence. Additionally, specific exercises geared towards strengthening the gluteal muscles are beneficial in both treatment and prevention of hip bursitis.

Dr. Niki Varveris, PT, DPT, MSPT, MBA, CKTP

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