Physical Therapy and Dry Needling for Hip Pain and Hip Bursitis

Hip Bursitis…

Most people hear about this at some point, if they don’t experience it themselves. I would like to describe what it actually is, why people get it, and give you some ideas and options to start improving.

What is hip bursitis?

Hip bursitis is irritation (and potentially inflammation) of a bursa in the hip. A bursa is a little fluid filled sac that forms in places where extra force is applied on tendons. Picture a rope hanging over a sharp cliff edge. If you start pulling on that rope, it will eventually fray. To prevent that, you could place some carpet there and it will prevent wear. That’s what a bursa is. They form naturally in various places to spread out force.

What we used to call ‘bursitis’ is actually now called ‘greater trochanteric pain syndrome,’ but that’s a mouthful so we usually just tell patients ‘bursitis’ still. We call it this because there are more things than just the bursa that can get irritated. There are many tendons and muscles in the area around the hip bone (greater trochanter), so we have to consider them when we assess and treat, too.

The pain from hip bursitis is felt on the outside of the hip, either on or surrounding the hip bone.

Lee's Summit Physical Therapy Hip Bursitis Anatomy

What causes hip bursitis?

Usually, it’s overuse that causes hip bursitis. I often see it in people who are starting a workout routine (especially running) or increasing the intensity of their routine quicker than their body can adjust and improve.

It’s not just the overuse that causes it, though. Usually, there is something happening or not happening somewhere else in the body that ends up being the real cause. This could be weakness or tightness in the hip or ankle, for example. This is the reason that it’s VITAL to see a good Physical Therapist, since we specialize in finding those problems.

How do we treat hip bursitis?

The first recommendation is usually rest from the irritating activity. Often, physicians will either prescribe anti-inflammatory medication or inject the area with steroids (which are anti-inflammatory).

This is where many people go wrong, especially if the physician doesn’t refer to a good Physical Therapist. The rest and medication will get the inflammation to go away, but then people tend to go right back to the activity that caused the inflammation, so they end up in a bad cycle.

Inflammation doesn’t happen unless there is a reason. Usually there are problems in and around the hip, but also even as far away as the foot, that initially led to the inflammation.

So the key to long term relief from hip pain from hip bursitis is to see a good Physical Therapist to find these problems and give you the tools to fix them, preventing the return of pain.

Bonus: Dry Needling for Hip Pain and Hip Bursitis

So, the common go-to treatment for bursitis by most physicians seems to be corticosteroid injections. These are not risk-free. They can seriously mess with blood sugar levels for people who have diabetes. Additionally, they can actually WEAKEN connective tissue, resulting in increased risk of it actually tearing in the future. Finally, they are expen$ive. I have seen people being charged anywhere from $500 to over $1200 for one injection.

Fortunately, there is a great alternative… dry needling. This is when a Physical Therapist uses very small, smooth, solid needle (you can fit multiple needles in the hole of a hypodermic needle where the fluid normally comes out) to treat the affected area. As they are so much smaller, they are much less uncomfortable. Many people don’t even feel pain with the treatment. And they are much cheaper!

Lee's Summit Physical Therapy Dry Needle Hip Bursitis

A recent study actually showed that steroid injections for treating bursitis resulted in no better relief in pain and improvement in functional limitations than dry needling.

That’s right… just as effective, fewer risk for negative side effects, cheaper, and you are already seeing the expert in the things that will actually keep the pain away.

Want to find hip pain relief for bursitis in or around Lee’s Summit?

Now, you don’t want to find just anyone that can dry needle. You want an expert in this to get the best and fastest results.

Hip bursitis is one of the most common things I see in my practice. It’s actually my favorite individual diagnosis to treat, too:)

I want to give you the free eBook I wrote to get you started improving. Just click the link, fill in your information, and I will email it to you right away.

If you are ready to take the leap and get feeling better right away, contact me for a free initial phone consult to see if we are a good fit.


Here’s to you getting back to doing what you love and not suffering any more,


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