Can lower back problems cause bursitis?

Answered by Stephen Mosley

Lower back problems can indeed cause bursitis, specifically trochanteric bursitis. Trochanteric bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa located on the outside of the hip, near the greater trochanter. The bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between tendons, muscles, and bones, reducing friction and allowing smooth movement.

When there is a problem in the lower back, such as disc disease or arthritis, it can lead to altered mechanics and movement patterns. This, in turn, can result in increased stress on the hip joint and the surrounding structures, including the trochanteric bursa. The increased stress can cause irritation and inflammation of the bursa, leading to trochanteric bursitis.

In the case of disc disease in the lower back, the discs between the vertebrae may degenerate or herniate, causing compression or irritation of the nearby nerves. This can result in pain radiating down the leg, known as sciatica. The altered movement patterns and gait changes associated with sciatica can place additional strain on the hip joint, potentially leading to trochanteric bursitis.

Similarly, arthritis in the hip or a previous hip surgery can also affect the mechanics of the hip joint. Arthritis causes inflammation and degeneration of the joint, leading to pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion. These changes in hip mechanics can contribute to the development of trochanteric bursitis.

Symptoms of trochanteric bursitis may include hip pain, tenderness at the affected area, limping, swelling, and redness. In some cases, there may be warmth from inflammation or signs of infection. It is important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, so it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment for trochanteric bursitis typically involves a combination of rest, ice or heat therapy, pain medication, physical therapy, and targeted exercises to strengthen the hip and improve movement mechanics. In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be recommended to reduce inflammation and pain. If conservative measures fail to provide relief, surgical intervention may be considered.

Lower back problems can indeed cause trochanteric bursitis. Disc disease, arthritis, or altered hip mechanics resulting from previous hip surgery can lead to increased stress on the hip joint and the development of bursitis. It is important to seek medical attention for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment to address both the lower back issue and the bursitis.