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Bursa are small sacs filled with a small amount of synovial fluid that facilitate the movement of joints. Bursa are usually located at points of friction—where tendons or ligaments move next to the bone. Bursitis is a term used for any inflammation of bursa. It can be caused by infection, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, chronic use (repetitive stress), or trauma. Often the cause is unknown.

Bursitis of the hip can affect anyone at any age, but it is less common in men and young people. The main symptom is an aching pain on the outside of the thigh. This pain is usually located at the hip joint, but may radiate as far down as the knee.

Acute bursitis occurs suddenly, and may accompany pain when the joint is moved or the area around it is touched. The skin over the joint may appear red or warm to the touch.
Chronic bursitis may result for the accumulation of previous injuries, or from previous bouts of acute bursitis. The walls of the bursa thicken, sometimes they become filled with calcium deposits, and they become more susceptible to exercise, strain, and additional injury.

Bursitis can be treated in several ways:

  • Ice packs. Get proper instruction in their use so you do not damage your skin.
  • Stretching, exercise, and physical therapy.
  • Weight loss is often helpful. It reduces stress on the hip and other susceptible joints.
  • Adjusting the type and height of shoes.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., ibuprofen).
  • Steroids.

Stretching, strengthening muscles of the back and legs, consistent exercise, and avoiding repetitive tasks that irritate your joints can help you prevent a recurrence of bursitis.

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