Ester Marsh: Dealing with bursitis

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy new tear!

Well, 2019 is here. As I mentioned in last week’s column, many people have exercise, losing weight and eating healthier as their top new tear’s resolutions. All of those are great; just be sure to set reachable goals and aim for them gradually.

When you lose weight too fast, you have a higher chance of gaining it back quickly. Exercising a lot too soon can set you up for overuse injuries.

Today, I want to cover hip bursitis. Not only because I am personally dealing with it, but many other people I know are or have been dealing with it as well.

Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursae, when the bursae gets swollen and irritated.

A bursae is a small sac filled will a thick fluid to lubricate and protect the joint. Bursaes can be found in the shoulders, elbows, hips, knees and heels. Bursitis is more common in the middle-age and older population but it can affect people at any age. Typically, the causes are overuse in a sport or a physical job doing lots of repetitive movements. It can happen over time, sometimes because of an injury.

There are two bursaes in the hip. The trochanteric bursae, which is on the outside of the hip, and the iliopsoas bursae which is on the inside of the hip. I was running with our Hurley youth cross-country team once to twice a week when I started to get pain in my left hip. I already figured out that I needed one day of rest in between runs and no more than three runs per week.

Personally, I do not think that I went too soon or too hard but I know I am dealing with a troubled SI joint which is the culprit of my trochanteric bursitis. Your SI joint is the sacroilliac joint, located at the bottom of the spine.

A tight IT band (illio tibial band, which is a tendon which runs on the outside of the leg from the top of the hip to below the knee) can also aggravate the trochanteric bursae by rubbing against it while walking, running or cycling. So typically the treatment is rest and antiinflammatory over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen and Aleve.

I received a “miracle” shot. I went to Dr. Comadoll’s office to see what was going on because it was hindering me in everything I was doing. The conclusion was that I have left hip bursitis and that we were going to try the steroid injection.

To be honest, I was terrified. I heard enough horror stories about this huge needle and how much it hurts when injected. The physician’s assistant was very good and calming and it really wasn’t a big deal after I received the shot. It took about two days to work, but boy did it.

It was so nice to be able to move my leg to the outside and walk and exercise without pain. About a week later was the holiday parade in Spencer and Salisbury and the YMCA had a float in it. Not thinking, I was running back and forth, zig-zagging up main in Spencer and Salisbury. I felt great. I didn’t even think about my hip until the next day.

Needless to say, I aggravated it again and I will be making a phone call for my second shot this week.

If you think you are dealing with bursitis, stop doing what makes it hurt. Rest, ice and take over-the-counter anti- inflammatory drugs. The best thing is to have your doctor diagnose you. This way he or she can send you to physical therapy or for a steroid injection.

If you need to lose weight, try to do so because it will help relieve extra weight on the joints. Sometimes, it’s because one leg is shorter than the other and all you need is an insert for leg length difference. The folks at Ralph Baker Shoes are experts on this. And of course getting or maintaining strength and flexibility of the hip muscles helps as well.

Most of the time when you gradually increase your days, time or mileage per week your chance of an overuse injury is smaller. Make sure you warm up properly (at least 10 minutes) and stretch following each exercise session (at least 10 to 15 minutes).

When something starts to hurt, stop doing it. There are so many other ways to exercise which do not aggravate your bursaes.

Let’s make 2019 a happy and healthy year by taking great care of ourselves and listening to our bodies.

Ester H. Marsh is health and fitness director of J.F. Hurley Family YMCA.