Falling off a bike- Hip bursitis

As you may or may not know, I’ve had a couple of minor issues on my most recent forays on the bike. The first one ended with me getting some kind of nasty GI symptoms for about 3 days after I ingested something gnarly that probably got flicked up onto my water bottles. (Relatively easy fix- bought some new water bottles with caps over the top). The second one – well it didn’t end with me falling off- that is far too dramatic- more that I fell over. It was about halfway through the ride at the bottom of a hill near Mow Cop.

Rubber side down!

I slowed down over a bridge for a sharp right bend and -*bang*- I was on the floor skidding along merrily swearing away. No user error, no ice on the road. Upright one second, and not upright the next. Phil- who I was cycling with- observed that had I not done that right in front of him, he would have been in exactly the same situation.

The next few minutes were spent with me swearing quite freely, dragging my bike out of the road (to be fair, not a single other road user came past us during this entire incident), and in the back of my mind I was thinking “well, I’m up and moving, it hurts a bit, but there can’t be anything actually broken”. Followed swiftly by “I think I’ve torn my rather expensive cycling jacket”.


After the shock had faded, we assessed the damage, torn jacket, bleeding elbow, painful hip, scuffed rear mech and figured I’d got off pretty lightly. We then had to cycle 60km home, but that was the plan anyway.

What happened next?

We’re now 3 weeks later and the gash in my elbow has pretty much healed, the cuts on my ankle are ok- but my hip is still swollen. In fact I woke up 4 days ago with a the swelling up even more. (conveniently it is near easter so I had the perfect size gauge). The lump on my hip was about the size of a Cadbury’s creme egg. Crazy. It was so swollen that it was painful to move, to weight bear, to do anything in fact. It hurt to press it, and it was a semi-squidgy lump- somewhat reminiscent of when I got pre-patella bursitis from kneeling too much on hard hospital floors- which is another story.

Diagnosis was pretty straightforward. The bone was fine, the muscles were fine, as were the ligaments. I’ve been running around for the past 2 weeks with a smaller lump on my hip with no symptoms at all, so everything around there was giving me no issues whatsoever. The obvious diagnosis was an inflamed bursa. (An inflamed trochanteric bursa, to be exact).

bursitis physio

Genuinely. It was a lump this big. No, I’m not going to show you pictures.

Standing straight- you could see literally an egg shaped lump on the side of my right leg/hip, over the top of the femur. Crazy. My first thought was- of course- how d’you get rid of this? Can I drain it?! I have enough emergency kit in my first aid box to be able to do such a thing… but should I? The answer for the pre-patella bursitis was simply patience and anti-inflammatories, but that wasn’t anywhere as near as painful as this. So I reached out to some friends for suggestions.

Who said what?

The paramedic had never drained a bursitis but was happy to provide equipment and Youtube. (pretty much what I was intending on doing as well! (great minds and all that)- there are a plethora of videos on Youtube….).

The nurse practitioner had never drained a bursitis and suggested caution.

I was vaccinating the next day anyway and decided to wait to talk to some more GPs and other medical professionals before doing anything “silly”. The main issue with draining a bursa is the possible introduction of infection. You DO NOT want that. Considering that I’m not really racing anything very soon means that patience is fine.

The first Doctor had never drained a bursa, suggested it might be a bad idea due to infection risk, but the people who might have done so would be rheumatologists or A&E specialists.

The second had never drained a bursa, and prescribed patience, anti-inflammatories and really- don’t get infected by doing something silly.

The third said pretty much the same thing.

There was a pattern beginning to emerge here.

outdoors therapy

nothing better for the soul

So where are we now?

It is now Saturday- 4 days later. The initial reason why the bursa suddenly became massively inflamed appears to be because I slept on it. Nothing more. Bursae are small fluid filled sacs in the body which enable it to move more smoothly. Effectively they are friction reducing sacs… but if they get inflamed they are very very tender and can be easily “caught”- which causes considerable amounts of pain. I haven’t run in about a week (entirely my choice- I figured if it was painful to walk, it’s going to be worse to run. Also, if a bursa is inflamed and is being irritated by friction, I could prolong the annoyance by running un-necessarily). I’ve been taking as many ibuprofen as I’m allowed per day, and making sure that I wedge myself with pillows in bed to make sure that I don’t accidentally roll onto my side.

The needles and syringes have stayed in their packaging.


The bursa is considerably reduced in size. It still isn’t gone, but it is not affecting my movements, it doesn’t hurt to weight bear anymore, I can move around without wincing and generally am in a better mood. There has been no infection risk (but I am kind of disappointed I didn’t get to aspirate a bursa. I can only imagine it is as satisfying as popping a blister- but more so…).

There we have it. Patience. Ibuprofen. Don’t sleep on it or irritate it by running. Job’s a good’un. I’d encourage you to read that again. I didn’t run for a few days- I didn’t try to run through the pain. It didn’t kill me. Sometimes a little rest and recovery can go a long way, especially in the early stages of a potential issue or injury. As a result things are going well, I’ll be back running today or tomorrow… will my fitness have been affected? Less so by this than the amount of chocolate eggs I’ve eaten, that’s for sure.

Cat Physiotherapy

Rest and recovery. Less well observed than you might hope.

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