Merck Manual

Please confirm that you are a health care professional

honeypot link

How To Inject a Trochanteric Bursa


Alexandra Villa-Forte

, MD, MPH, Cleveland Clinic

Reviewed/Revised Apr 2023

Trochanteric bursal injection is the process of puncturing a bursal sac and/or the area around it with a needle and injecting anesthetics, often with corticosteroids, to help treat greater trochanteric pain syndrome.

Isolated trochanteric bursitis is now believed to occur rarely, and lateral hip pain is more often referred to as greater trochanteric pain syndrome, which most often originates from gluteal medius and minimus tendinopathy, sometimes with an associated bursitis. However, the injection technique (aimed at the point of maximal tenderness) is the same for both isolated trochanteric bursitis and greater trochanteric pain syndrome.

The deep bursae (trochanteric, subacromial, or anserine) lie between bone and overlying tendons. Bursitis of a deep bursa seldom manifests with visible swelling or erythema.

Indications for Injecting a Trochanteric Bursa

  • For injections of corticosteroid to treat inflammation

Symptoms of greater trochanteric pain syndrome are effectively treated with rest, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and exercise therapy. However, when trochanteric bursitis persists despite conservative measures, bursal injection provides rapid relief.

Aspiration of fluid from the trochanteric bursa is not anticipated.

Contraindications to Injecting a Trochanteric Bursa

Absolute contraindications

  • Overlying cellulitis or skin ulcer, bacteremia, adjacent prosthetic joint

  • Hypersensitivity to an injected substance

  • For corticosteroid injection, suspected septic bursitis

Relative contraindications

  • Unrecognized tendon or muscle injury: Analgesia provided by a corticosteroid injection could delay accurate diagnosis.

  • Poorly controlled diabetes: Any benefit of corticosteroids is weighed against risk of short-term worsening glycemic control.

  • Recent (ie, within the last 3 months) corticosteroid injection into same site (although no evidence has evaluated this practice).

Complications of Injecting a Trochanteric Bursa

Complications are uncommon and include

  • Subcutaneous fat atrophy, skin atrophy and sinus tracts, and temporary skin depigmentation due to inadvertent subcutaneous corticosteroid injection

  • Painful local reaction thought to result from a chemical synovitis in response to the crystals in the corticosteroid solution (sometimes called a postinjection flare) occurring within a few hours of depot corticosteroid injection and usually lasting ≤ 48 hours

  • Infection

  • In diabetic patients, hyperglycemia after a depot corticosteroid injection

Equipment for Injecting a Trochanteric Bursa

  • Antiseptic solution (eg, chlorhexidine, povidone iodine, isopropyl alcohol)

  • Sterile gauze, gloves, sterile adhesive bandage

  • Needle insertion site anesthesia (eg, topical freezing spray or injectable 1% lidocaine without epinephrine, in a 3-mL syringe)

  • For therapeutic injection, 10-mL syringe with about 3 to 5 mL 1% lidocaine (without epinephrine) mixed with injectable depot corticosteroid (eg, triamcinolone acetonide, 40 mg)

  • 2-inch needle, 22 to 25 gauge

  • Some 3-mL syringes

Having an assistant is helpful.

Additional Considerations for Injecting a Trochanteric Bursa

  • For bursal injection, local anesthetic and depot corticosteroid often are mixed in a single syringe. Adding the anesthetic helps confirm good needle placement when injection immediately relieves pain. Adding anesthetic also may decrease the risk of the corticosteroid causing subcutaneous fat atrophy and the risk of postinjection flare.

  • If the history or physical examination suggests the possibility of septic bursitis, withhold corticosteroid injection.

  • Immediate analgesia after injection of local anesthetic helps confirm correct needle placement and that greater trochanteric pain syndrome is the source of pain.

Relevant Anatomy for Injecting a Trochanteric Bursa

  • Although tenderness at or near the greater trochanter is characteristic, the trochanteric bursae are usually not the only source of the pain.

  • Commonly affected trochanteric bursae are the subgluteus maximus bursa (multiloculated, lies between the greater trochanter and the gluteus maximus tendon) and the bursae between the greater trochanter and gluteus medius and minimus tendons. Other sources of pain include tendinopathy of the gluteus medius and minimus.

  • Pain elicited by palpation is used to determine the site of needle insertion.

Positioning for Injecting a Trochanteric Bursa

  • Place the patient lying laterally on the unaffected side, with affected leg slightly flexed and adducted to move the lateral muscles away from the greater trochanter.

  • To avoid vasovagal episodes, avert the patient's head and orient your work area so that the patient does not see the needles.

Step-by-Step Description of Injecting a Trochanteric Bursa

Prepare the site

  • Mark the site of needle entry on the skin.

  • Prepare the area with antiseptic solution.

  • Spray freezing spray at the needle insertion site until it just blanches and/or place a skin wheal of local anesthetic (eg, ≤ 1 mL).

Inject the bursa

  • Wear gloves.

  • Insert the needle perpendicularly to the skin at the point of maximum tenderness, aiming toward the greater trochanter.

When the tip of the needle touches the greater trochanter, retract the needle about 1 mm.

  • Gently pull back on the plunger prior to injection to rule out intravascular placement.

  • Slowly inject all of the anesthetic/corticosteroid mixture and withdraw the needle.

If the injection meets resistance, the needle tip may be within an overlying tendon. Stop injecting and advance or withdraw the needle until the injection does not meet resistance.

  • Pain may be immediately relieved after a properly placed injection of anesthetic.

  • Apply an adhesive bandage or sterile dressing.

Aftercare for Injecting a Trochanteric Bursa

  • Prescribe limited hip activity (eg, avoid stairs, prolonged walking, running, weight-lifting), ice, and oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) until pain subsides.

  • Limiting hip activity can help minimize the spread of the corticosteroid into adjacent tissues and maximizes its therapeutic effect.

  • Instruct the patient to return for reassessment to exclude infection if pain is continuously and progressively increasing after several hours or persists for > 48 hours.

Warnings and Common Errors for Injecting a Trochanteric Bursa

  • To avoid damaging tendons, do not inject corticosteroid against resistance.

Tips and Tricks for Injecting a Trochanteric Bursa

  • Appropriate positioning is very helpful. Explore the trochanteric and gluteal structures for multiple areas of tenderness that mimic the patient's pain.


  • 1. Yui JC, Preskill C, Greenlund LS: Arthrocentesis and joint injection in patients receiving direct oral anticoagulants. Mayo Clin Proc 92(8):1223–1226, 2017. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2017.04.007

Drugs Mentioned In This Article

Drug Name Select Trade
Betasept, Chlorostat, DYNA-HEX, Hibiclens, Oro Clense , Peridex, Periogard, PerioRx , Perisol
7T Lido, Akten , ALOCANE, ANASTIA, AneCream, Anestacon, Aspercreme with Lidocaine, AsperFlex, Astero , BenGay, Blue Tube, Blue-Emu, CidalEaze, DermacinRx Lidocan II, DermacinRx Lidocan III, DermacinRx Lidogel, DermacinRx Lidorex, DermacinRx Lidotral, DERMALID, Dologesic, Ela-Max, GEN7T, Glydo, Gold Bond, Icy Hot , LidaFlex, LidaMantle, Lido King Maximum Strength, Lidocan, LIDOCANNA, Lidocare, Lidoderm, LidoDose, LidoDose Pediatric, Lidofore, LidoHeal-90, LIDO-K , LidoLite, Lidomar , Lidomark, Lidopin, LidoPure, LidoReal-30, LidoRx, Lidosense 4 , Lidosense 5, Lidosol, Lidosol-50, LIDO-SORB, Lidotral, Lidovix L, LIDOZION, Lidozo, Lidtopic, Lidtopic Max, LMX 4, LMX 4 with Tegaderm, LMX 5, LTA, Lubricaine, Lubricaine For Her, Lydexa, MENTHO-CAINE , Moxicaine, Numbonex, Professional DNA Collection Kit, Proxivol, ReadySharp Lidocaine, RectaSmoothe, RectiCare, Regenecare HA, Salonpas Lidocaine, Senatec, Solarcaine, SOLUPAK, SUN BURNT PLUS, Suvicort, Topicaine, Tranzarel, VacuStim Silver, Xyliderm, Xylocaine, Xylocaine Dental, Xylocaine in Dextrose, Xylocaine MPF, Xylocaine Topical, Xylocaine Topical Jelly, Xylocaine Topical Solution, Xylocaine Viscous, Zilactin-L, ZiloVal, Zingo, Zionodi, ZTlido
Adrenaclick, Adrenalin, Auvi-Q, Epifrin, Epinephrine Professional EMS, Epinephrine Professional with Safety Seal, epinephrinesnap , epinephrinesnap-v, EpiPen, Epipen Jr , Primatene Mist, SYMJEPI, Twinject
Aristocort, Aristocort A, Aristocort Forte, Aristocort HP, Aristo-Pak, Aristospan, Arze-Ject-A, Azmacort, Children's Nasacort Allergy 24HR Nasal Spray, Cinalog, Cinolar, Flutex, Hexatrione, Kenalog, Kenalog in Orabase, Kenalog-10, Kenalog-40, Kenalog-80, Nasacort, Nasacort Allergy, Nasacort AQ, Oralone, SP Rx 228 , Tac-3 , Triacet , Triamonide , Trianex , Triderm , Triesence, XIPERE, Zilretta
NOTE: This is the Professional Version. CONSUMERS: View Consumer Version
quiz link

Test your knowledge

Take a Quiz!