Snapping Hip Syndrome

What is snapping hip syndrome, and how is it treated?

Snapping hip syndrome (SHS) is a condition that is usually identified by a snapping sensation, perhaps with a snapping or clicking sound when the hip is in motion.

You may hear people refer to this as dancer’s hip or coxa saltans.

The condition can further be defined as external snapping hip syndrome or internal snapping hip syndrome.

For many people, this condition is nothing more than an annoyance. However, in some cases, the condition can cause pain and weakness causing problems with functional mobility.

If you are experiencing pain in your hip that interferes with your mobility, then schedule a consultation with the team at OrthoNeuro. Our orthopedic surgeons provide state-of-the-art diagnosis and personalized treatment.

What Causes Snapping Hip Syndrome?

The snapping sensation usually happens when a muscle or tendon passes over a bony structure in the hip.

Internal snapping hip syndrome occurs when the hip flexor muscle or iliopsoas tendon snaps over the front of the hip bone, causing a snap in the front of the hip.

External snapping hip syndrome usually occurs when the iliotibial band slides over the protruding part of the thigh bone called the greater trochanter.

Another snapping site is where the ball at the top of the thigh bone fits into the socket in the pelvis to form the hip joint.

The snapping occurs when the rectus femoris tendon, which runs from inside the thigh bone up through the pelvis, moves back and forth across the ball when the hip is bent and straightened.

Less commonly, a cartilage tear or bits of broken cartilage or bone in the joint space can cause snapping, or a loose piece of cartilage can cause the hip to lock up. This can cause pain and disability.

How Do You Treat Snapping Hip Syndrome?

Your surgeon will usually try non-surgical treatments first to treat snapping hip syndrome.

Treatment may include the following:

  • Rest – Resting can help by allowing the affected tendon, muscle, or bursa to heal.
  • NSAIDs and COX-2 inhibitors – Taking these medications for a limited time may ease inflammation and hip pain.
  • Physical therapy – A physical therapist can help loosen tension and encourage healing in the muscles and tendons that cause external and inner snapping hip. They may use techniques such as stretching the hip flexors, massage, and retraining.
  • Steroid injections – These may be used if your pain is interfering with daily living.

If non-surgical treatments do not help relieve your symptoms, you may be recommended to have surgery.

Surgical Treatments for Snapping Hip Syndrome

Surgical treatments will always be recommended according to the underlying cause of your symptoms.

The following types of surgery may be recommended:

  • IT band release: This treatment may be recommended if you have persistent and painful outer hip snapping. The surgeon will make specific incisions in the iliotibial tendon to lengthen it. This will reduce tension and the likelihood of the hip snapping.
  • Iliopsoas tendon release: This treatment may be recommended for people who have persistent and painful internal hip snapping syndrome. The surgeon makes strategic incisions in the iliopsoas tendon to lengthen it. The resulting reduction in tension will likely stop the hip snapping.
  • Arthroscopic hip debridement: If the snapping is caused by injury to the cartilage, this procedure may be used. Loose pieces of cartilage will be removed from the hip’s ball and socket joint through a small incision.
  • Acetabular labrum repair: If the cartilage in the hip socket is torn, then this procedure may be recommended. The procedure will be performed through minimally invasive surgery.

Contact Us

If you have severe hip discomfort because of a snapping hip, schedule a consultation online today at OrthoNeuro.

Our orthopedic surgeons provide state-of-the-art diagnosis and personalized treatment.

Make an Appointment with an OrthoNeuro Hip Specialist Today!

If you are suffering from discomfort due to a snapping hip, schedule an appointment with one of our Board Certified Orthopedic Hip Specialists at one of our 7 convenient locations throughout Greater Columbus.

We will evaluate your unique lifestyle and goals to determine which type of treatment is best for you. Best of all, most patients can be seen within 24 hours of making an appointment.

Hip Specialists


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