Debunking The Hip Bursitis Myth
Hip Bursitis goes hand in hand with Hip pain. It is a common complaint among many people, especially as they age or become more physically active. When hip pain strikes, it’s natural to want a quick answer and solution. One common misconception is that hip pain is primarily caused by bursitis, but in many cases, it might be a result of an irritated gluteal tendon. In this blog, we’ll explore this myth and uncover the truth about hip pain and the role of gluteal tendon irritation.
The Hip Bursitis Myth:
Hip Bursitis is often cited as a frequent cause of hip pain, but it is essential to understand that this may not always be the case. Bursitis refers to the inflammation of the bursa, which is a small, fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between bones, tendons, and muscles. The bursa in the hip area helps reduce friction and facilitate smooth movement. When the bursa becomes inflamed, it can lead to discomfort and pain, a condition known as hip bursitis.
However, blaming hip pain solely on bursitis can be misleading. Recent research and medical insights have shed light on an alternate, more common culprit—gluteal tendon irritation.
The Role of Gluteal Tendon Irritation:
The gluteal tendons, including the gluteus minimus and gluteus medius tendons, play a critical role in hip stability and movement. These tendons attach the gluteal muscles to the hip bone and are heavily involved in functions such as walking, running, and climbing. When these tendons become irritated or damaged, it can result in significant hip pain. The flow on affect of an irritated tendon that does not function properly is the irritation of the surrounding structures, that being the hip bursa.
Here are some reasons why gluteal tendon irritation is often the real source of hip pain:
- Overuse and Repetitive Movements: Activities that involve repetitive hip movements, such as walking, running, hiking, or cycling, can lead to overuse and strain on the gluteal tendons. This overuse can cause microtears and inflammation in the tendons, leading to pain. Often it’s “too much too soon” that leads to these injuries.
- Age-Related Changes: As we age, the tendons naturally undergo changes that can make them more susceptible to irritation and injury. This can lead to hip pain without the presence of bursitis.
- Muscle Imbalances: Weakness in the gluteal muscles can result in abnormal forces being placed on the tendons, leading to dysfunction and irritation. This is often seen in individuals with a sedentary lifestyle or muscle imbalances.
- Referred Pain: Hip pain can sometimes be referred from other areas, such as the lower back or sacroiliac joint. In these cases, it might seem like bursitis when, in fact, it’s another the pain is originated from somewhere else, but “felt” at the outside of the hip where the bursa sits.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Proper diagnosis is crucial to address hip pain accurately. Scans can often be misleading, and do NOT highlight the source of the pain. Studies have shown a large number of people who HAVE hip bursitis but have NO Hip pain at all. A thorough assessment by an Osteopath is essential to ensure your treatment is targeted at the source of your pain, and NOT just the symptoms.
Treatment Options For Gluteal Tendon Irritation May Include:
- Soft Tissue therapy: Often when muscles are dysfunctional they them self can become tight and irritated Not to mention the surrounding muscles that have to take up the extra load.
- Dry Needling: This techniques helps release of tension and improved muscle function. While also helping to stimulate local blood flow, ultimately promoting muscle relaxation and pain relief.
- Strengthening: Often there is a weakness in the Gluteal muscle. This needs to be specifically addressed.
- Shockwave Therapy. This treatment directly targets the injured / irritated tendon. We have seen upwards of an 80% success rate when combined with hands on treatment and a specific strengthening program in treating Gluteal Tendinopathies.
Hip pain can be a debilitating condition that interferes with one’s daily life and physical activities. While hip bursitis is often blamed for this discomfort, it’s essential to consider the possibility of gluteal tendon irritation as a more common cause of hip pain.
By recognizing the role that irritated gluteal tendons can play in hip pain, you can seek the appropriate diagnosis and treatment to address the root cause of your discomfort. So next time you hear someone blaming their hip bursa for their hip pain, you can quite confidently ask.,.. have you considered the possibility its your Gluteal tendon and NOT your hip bursa?
If you feel you need more help with your Hip pain. We are here to help. We are more than happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have. Email your questions to [email protected]. And one of our Osteopath’s will reply.