Greater trochanteric pain syndrome is a condition that causes pain over the outside of your upper thigh (or both thighs). The cause is usually due to inflammation or injury to some of the tissues that lie over the bony prominence (the greater trochanter) at the top of the thigh bone (femur).
Greater trochanteric pain syndrome can sometimes cause a lot of pain and also difficulty with walking. The pain is usually caused by injury, prolonged pressure or repetitive movements. Runners may have this problem. People who have had surgery to their hip can also have this type of pain.
How common is it?
Greater trochanteric pain syndrome affects about 1 in 300 people each year. It is most common in women between 40-60 years of age. It can occur in younger people, especially runners, footballers and dancers.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptom is pain in your outer thigh and hip area. Many people find this pain to be a deep pain which may be aching or burning. The pain may become worse over time.
The pain may be worse when you are lying on your side, especially at night. The pain may also be made worse by doing any exercise. You may find that you walk with a limp.
Greater trochanteric pain syndrome often goes away (resolves) on its own over time.
How is it diagnosed?
The diagnosis is usually made based on your symptoms and an examination by a doctor. Your doctor will usually examine your hip and legs. You may find it be to be very tender when your doctor presses over the area of the greater trochanter.
Tests (investigations) are not normally needed. However, tests might be necessary if your doctor suspects that infection of the fluid-filled sac (bursa) is the cause (but this is rare). Tests may also be necessary if the diagnosis is not clear. For example, an X-ray of your hip or an MRI scan may be needed.
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Further reading & references
- Greater trochanteric pain syndrome (trochanteric bursitis); NICE CKS, August 2016 (UK access only)
- Williams BS, Cohen SP; Greater trochanteric pain syndrome: a review of anatomy, diagnosis and treatment. Anesth Analg. 2009 May 108(5):1662-70.
- Strauss EJ, Nho SJ, Kelly BT; Greater trochanteric pain syndrome. Sports Med Arthrosc. 2010 Jun 18(2):113-9.
- McMahon SE, Smith TO, Hing CB; A systematic review of imaging modalities in the diagnosis of greater trochanteric pain syndrome. Musculoskeletal Care. 2012 Dec 10(4):232-9. doi: 10.1002/msc.1024. Epub 2012 Jul 4.
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