Trochanteric Bursitis

For runners who pound the pavement day after day, shin splints and blisters aren’t the only unwanted that racking up the miles may bring. Trochanteric bursitis, also known as hip bursitis, is another common injury among distance runners. It causes sharp pain at the point on the side of your hip bone; this sensation may become duller over time and may be worse after lying down or sitting. Symptoms are similar to those of a hip pointer.

Hip bursitis occurs when a tendon in the leg rubs against a fluid-filled sac, or bursa, that sits on the outside of the hip bone. This tendon connects the outside of the hip to the outer knee, and it passes over the bursa each time with every step. That’s why hip bursitis occurs most often in athletes the athletes who run a lot, performing the same motions with their hips and legs over and over again. These include runners, bicyclists and soccer players.

A doctor can tell you if you have hip bursitis, which can also be caused by bone spurs, hip surgery, or falling on your hip. Some people also have one leg that is slightly longer than the other, and this difference can affect your gait and cause hip bursitis.

Taking a temporary break from running may be necessary to make bursitis clear up, and anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen also can be helpful. Rarely, a doctor may need to drain the fluid-filled sac on the hip if a significant amount of liquid has gathered in it.

Once your hip bursitis has gone away, you can prevent it from coming back by making sure you resume exercise gradually, and by lengthening and strengthening the muscles of your legs and on the outside of your hip.  These measures can help you get back on the running trail in no time.

Piriformis Syndrome

The piriformis muscle is a small muscle that runs from the spine’s base through the buttocks. It helps you rotate your leg outward, away from your body. Because the sciatic nerve tends to run close (or even through) the piriformis, if this muscle becomes tight, it can exert pressure on the nerve. This causes pain that radiates down the leg (sciatica pain) in a condition known as piriformis syndrome. This is most common in athletes who use their legs in repetitive motions, such as runners.

Piriformis syndrome commonly causes pain and tenderness in the buttocks, pain that can radiate down the leg to the hamstrings or calf muscles, but unlike a hamstring injury, the hamstring isn’t tender when touched. Finally, you may find that you have a decreased range of motion in your hip.

This condition is generally caused by tightness in the adductor muscles (which help bring your legs together), which means the muscles that move your leg apart must work differently, causing increased strain on the piriformis muscle.

If you think you have piriformis syndrome, rest and ice the affected area. Stretching the piriformis muscle can also help alleviate pain, but if you find that the discomfort persists, consult a sports medicine professional. He or she can make a definite diagnosis and may prescribe you specific stretching and strengthening activities. You may also undergo various testing, such as X-rays or magnetic resonance imagery (MRI) to rule out other causes of your pain. Ultrasound is sometimes used as part of physical therapy, and in particularly severe cases, surgery may be necessary.

To prevent piriformis syndrome from coming back, keep the piriformis and your hip rotator muscles flexible through stretching, and increase training gradually.

Snapping Hip Syndrome

If you experience a snapping or clicking sensation when you flex or extend your hip (by bringing your knee towards your waist or by straightening the hip joint), you may have snapping hip syndrome, also known as clicking hip. This condition is harmless unless it is accompanied by pain, which can persist for months or even years if untreated.

Snapping hip syndrome is most common among athletes whose sports require repetitive movements, such as runners, soccer players and equestrians. The more common type of snapping hip syndrome, known as extra-articular snapping hip, occurs when the connective tissue that runs down the outer side of the leg, from the hip to the knee, becomes thickened. This enables the band to rub against and catch on nearby bones or on the fluid-filled sac on the outside of the hip bone, known as a bursa. This rubbing can cause the pain that sometimes accompanies snapping hip syndrome.

The other, less-common type of snapping hip syndrome is known as intra-articular snapping hip syndrome. This occurs when the tendon stretching from the inner thigh to the pelvis becomes inflamed. In this case, the clicking sensation is caused by the tendon snapping over the head of the hip bone.

If your snapping hip is not painful, there’s no need to consult a sports medicine specialist. If, however, your hip is bothering you, simple at-home measures may heal your hip. These include cutting back on your training, applying ice to the hip, and modifying the way you exercise to minimize repetitive hip movements. Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, can also reduce discomfort.

If the pain persists, consult a professional. He or she can diagnose the condition and put you on the road to recovery. Your sports medicine specialist will ask you to move your leg to recreate the snapping sensation, and he or she might even be able to feel the tendon snap as you move. He or she might also order X-rays to rule out other causes of the clicking such as bone problems.

Once you have recovered from snapping hip syndrome, make sure you keep the muscles of your hip strong and flexible. Also increase your mileage gradually so you don’t overtax your hip before it’s in training condition.

Hip Labral Tear

The cartilage that lines the rim of your hip joint’s socket is known as the labrum, and it helps hold your hip joint together by acting like a suction cup. When this cushioning tissue tears, the condition is known as a labral tear.

Sports that increase the risk of labral tear include golfing, soccer, football, ballet and hockey. A hip labral tear can cause a “catching” sensation or a clicking sound in the hip joint, along with hip pain and stiffness. But sometimes a hip labral tear can exist without causing any signs or symptoms.

The tear can occur in contact sports, such as football, if the hip is involved in a collision. The repetitive motions common in sports such as softball also can make one prone to a labral tear, as can structural abnormalities in the hip, which increase the amount of wear and tear the hip undergoes during exercise.

Consult a sports medicine specialist if you think you may have a hip labral tear. It’s important to get this condition treated, as it can predispose you to osteoarthritis and further hip injury later in life. The doctor may order an X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to get a close look at the problem and rule out other possible causes of your pain.

For some people, rest, pain relievers and compression are enough to heal the tear. Physical therapy can also help you recover, and can also assist you in avoiding re injuring the hip. Finally, surgery is necessary in rare cases to remove or repair the damaged tissue.

To prevent a recurrence of a hip labral tear, make sure you allow plenty of time to recover from exercise, and that you increase your mileage and training gradually.

Two other common athlete hip injuries are a hip flexor strain and a hip pointer.