Hip Bursitis vs Hip Osteoarthritis: How to Know the Difference

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Sharp pains, stiffness, tenderness…these are fairly common symptoms associated with a hip condition. How can you tell when the pain is caused by hip bursitis vs hip osteoarthritis? These conditions share a lot of symptoms, making it difficult for patients to know what is causing their discomfort and decreased mobility.

Our team of hip specialists has extensive experience in treating both conditions, and will help determine your specific hip condition and prescribe an effective treatment plan designed to fit you and your goals.

Dr. Edward Sparling helps distinguish the symptoms and causes of hip bursitis and hip osteoarthritis below.

What is the Difference Between Hip Bursitis and Hip Arthritis?

Hip bursitis develops when the bursae (small, jelly-like sacs) becomes inflamed. The bursae provide necessary cushioning and reduce joint friction.

“There are two important bursae in the hip that are prone to inflammation,” says Dr. Sparling. “One bursa is especially prone to bursitis because it covers the femur. The other is in the inside of the hip near the groin.”

Hip bursitis most commonly affects the middle-aged or elderly. Hip bursitis is commonly caused by an injury to the hip, an overuse injury or spinal condition/disease. Other factors, including rheumatoid arthritis, bone spurs or prior hip procedures may also play a role.

“The simplest way to understand the difference between hip bursitis and hip osteoarthritis is to understand where the pain is coming from,” says Dr. Sparling. “When you have hip osteoarthritis, the pain is coming from inside the joint. With hip bursitis, pain is coming from the outside.”

Hip osteoarthritis also develops commonly in the middle-aged and elderly. Hip osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in the hip joint wears down with age.

“Cartilage protects the hip joints and prevents bone from rubbing on bone,” says Dr. Sparling. “The lack of cartilage causes pain and stiffness, and even makes it difficult to walk.”

Other factors like heredity, injury, obesity and dysplasia may contribute to the development of osteoarthritis.

What are the Symptoms of Hip Bursitis and Hip Osteoarthritis?

Hip bursitis:

  • Pain that may be sharp and intense in its first stages
  • Pain that worsens at night
  • Pain may progress to a widespread ache (spreading to larger hip area including thigh, groin, etc.)
  • Laying down or placing pressure on the hip may cause discomfort, tenderness or pain
  • Pain or stiffness after too little or too much activity
  • Activities like walking, climbing and squatting may be difficult and painful

Hip osteoarthritis:

  • Pain that develops slowly
  • Pain that is worse in the morning
  • Pain in the buttock, groin, thigh and hip
  • Locking, sticking, grating and grinding may happen when walking or moving
  • Vigorous or excessive activity may cause pain
  • Stiffness that decreases your range of motion, making walking or bending challenging
  • Swelling
  • Pain may spread to the knee or back

If you are suffering from any of the symptoms listed above, do not hesitate to make an appointment with one of our hip specialists, so they may provide a proper diagnosis and suggest treatment options.

hip bursitis vs hip osteoarthritis

About Rebound’s Hip Surgery Team

Rebound’s hip specialists have become leaders in hip replacement surgery by employing new, less invasive surgical techniques with improved outcomes. Rebound was one of the first practices in the nation to perform total hip resurfacing, and has one of the country’s most experienced hip resurfacing surgeons, having performed over 550 of these procedures. Additionally, Rebound is the only practice in SW Washington to offer the direct anterior approach for hip replacement, a minimally invasive alternative to traditional hip replacement.

Rebound Hip Resources:

Hip Surgery Services and Team

Hip Replacement: How to Prepare and What to Expect

Take a Step Forward with the Latest Hip Pain Treatment Options

Recommended Hip Resources:

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) – Hip Bursitis

AAOS – Osteoarthritis of the Hip

AAOS – Hip Arthroscopy

Arthritis Health – Hip Osteoarthritis Symptoms

Arthritis Health – Hip Bursitis Symptoms