Janet was helping load the kayak after a day on the lake when she stepped back on the uneven ground. She felt something snap in her right hip, causing an instantaneous sharp, throbbing pain on the outside of her hip.
Janet continued to help load the van, but she moved slowly and carefully.
Janet didn’t fall. And she could bear weight on her hip, so she was fairly sure her hip was not broken.
She went home, rested, and applied ice to reduce the swelling and inflammation. She stayed as still as possible, lying on her left side with a pillow between her knees to elevate her hip slightly.
Janet noticed her pain increased when she walked and climbed the stairs at her office. If she twisted her leg in the wrong way, it felt like a band had slipped out of place to cause pain. Janet could “reset” her hip and relieve the pain by lifting her leg straight up in front of her chest before placing her foot on the floor.
Over the next week, her condition continued to improve as she continued to baby her hip. At work, Janet moved carefully. When she forgot and rose from her chair or pivoted too quickly, she was painfully aware that her hip was still healing.
Janet felt confident her hip was making progress until the day she wore a pair of low-heeled shoes to a meeting. That night the throbbing pain in Janet's hip kept her awake for hours.
After a physical examination and X-rays, Janet was diagnosed with trochanteric bursitis, an inflammation of the bursa sac on the outside, the trochanteric area, of her hip. The bursa is a thin sac filled with synovial fluid, which lubricates the joint. When the bursa of a joint becomes inflamed, the condition is known as bursitis. Bursitis frequently affects women and people who are 40 years old and older.
Causes of trochanteric bursitis include bumping or falling on the hip, keeping the hip in one position for a long time while standing or sitting. Since Janet's job required her to sit for long periods of time, her hip flexors were tight. The added stress of sitting in one position in the kayak strained her caused her iliotibial band when she stepped wrong.
Janet’s doctor recommended she take over-the-counter medications for pain and referred her to a physical therapist.
During physical therapy, Janet learned some stretching and strengthening exercises. The stretching exercises helped her loosen her tendons and ligaments, which had grown tight from sitting at her desk day after day. Strengthening exercises helped her build muscles to support her hip joint.
Janet was thankful that physical therapy and exercise treated her bursitis. She was happy she could avoid the steroid injections and the surgery that would have been necessary if the physical therapy and the preventive exercises hadn’t worked.
After going through the pain of her bursitis attack, Janet was on a mission to prevent future attacks.
She talked to her physical therapist, and together, they designed a progressive walking program to add exercise to Janet’s daily routine.
Her physical therapist also gave her a few exercises to help her stretch her hip flexors.
During the work week, Janet set an hourly alarm and made a point to stand up and walk around the office several times a day.
She also started making wiser food choices, focusing on foods that were rich in nutrients, but low in calories. Her walking plan and her new food choices, also helped her lose weight.
Today, Janet is feeling better and living a more active life, which will help her prevent another bursitis attack.
Every joint in your body has a fluid-filled sac that cushions it, so every joint is susceptible to bursitis. You can reduce your risk of bursitis by making sure your ligaments and tendons remain supple and flexible, and the muscles surrounding your muscles are strong and supportive.
If you experience joint pain that lasts longer than two weeks, visit your primary care provider or an orthopedic specialist for treatment and pain relief.
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