Snapping Hip Syndrome

October 4, 2017 | By | Reply

Does your hip click when you walk?

Does your hip pop when you swing the leg around?

Do you get pain in the hip when you get up from a chair?

If your answer is YES, then it is more likely a condition called as the ‘Snapping Hip Syndrome’.
Snapping Hip Syndrome is also commonly referred to as the Dancer’s Hip or Iliospoas Tendinitis. It is characterized by a snapping sensation felt when you walk, run, get up from a chair or swing your leg around. This may be accompanied by an audible snapping or popping noise and pain or discomfort. Pain often decreases with rest and diminished activity. Based on the location of snapping, it can be either external or internal.

A person with snapping hip syndrome can usually snap a hip at will. He or she can make a hip snap with a particular movement, such as standing up from a seated position, walking, kicking or rotating a leg out.

Snapping Hip Syndrome

What causes the hip to snap?

Snapping is caused by the movement of a muscle or tendon over a bony structure in the hip. The tendons or muscles are pulled taut over the bone and then released, creating a snapping sensation.

Types Of Snapping Hip Syndrome:

  • The commonest site is on the outside of the hip (external snapping). The connective tissue band called as the iliotibial band passes of the prominent part of the thigh bone called as the greater trochanter. While standing straight the band is behind the trochanter and on bending the hip, the band moves over and in front of the trochanter causing the snapping.
    External Snapping Hip Syndrome
  • Snapping can also occur over inner aspect of upper thigh or groin (internal snapping). The iliospoas tendon slides over the protrusion of the pelvic bone called the iliopectineal eminence in front of the hip joint, creating a tension and then releasing with a snap.
    Internal Snapping Hip Syndrome
  • Intra-articular snapping hip, which causes snapping within the hip joint itself. It is not caused by a muscle or a tendon but by a mechanical impediment in the hip joint.
    Snapping Hip Syndrome

How does the hip snapping or popping cause pain?

  • The snapping muscle or tendon becomes irritated and inflamed. During snapping, the muscle or tendon is uncomfortably stretched and strained. This repeatedly over a period of time, can lead to muscle or tendon irritation, damage, and pain.
  • The snapping tendon or muscle can irritate a nearby bursa, a lubricating, fluid-filled structure that normally reduces friction between bone and soft tissue. This irritation can cause a bursa to become inflamed, a condition called hip bursitis.

Who is at risk for Snapping Hip Syndrome?

Snapping hip syndrome can affect anyone, but certain people are at higher risk:

  • Athletes who regularly utilize their hips’ extreme ranges of motion, such as dancers, soccer players, and people who practice martial arts (e.g. karate).
  • Young people who experience growth spurts can experience extra stain on muscles and tendons.
  • People who have had certain hip or knee surgeries.
  • People who have had a drastic increase in their activity levels in a short period of time.

Presentation of extra-articular Snapping Hip Syndrome:

  • Leg length difference (usually the long side symptomatic )
  • Tightness in the iliotibial band
  • Weak buttock muscles.
  • Poor lumbopelvic stability
  • Abnormal foot mechanics (over pronation)


  • Ultrasound during hip motion may visualize tendon subluxation and any accompanying bursitis.
  • MRI can sometimes identify intra-articular causes of snapping hip syndrome.


  • Rest – It is important to reduce or stop the activities which increase the pain such as running or performing sit-up exercises.
  • Anti inflammatory medicines – The doctor may prescribe these medicines in case of bursitis to reduce the pain and inflammation.
  • Stretching – Your physiotherapist will stretch the tight musculature.
  • Strengthening – Your physiotherapist will strengthen the weakened muscle.
  • Supportive shoes and orthotics – These will be necessary incase of any limb length differences causing pain and snapping.

Snapping Hip SyndromeSnapping Hip Syndrome


We at PhysioRehab, do a detailed evaluation and plan an individualized program for treating the Snapping Hip Syndrome. We also do an evaluation of the limb length and foot alignment to prescribe the necessary orthotics (insole with heel raises as required ) for rehabilitative purposes.

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