Have you experienced pain in your hip area? It could be snapping hip syndrome… Snapping hip syndrome is not really a diagnosis, but is considered a symptom. The snapping sensation within the hip area is caused by an underlying problem, and to find the right treatment, the diagnosis has to be identified.

Many people with snapping hip syndrome feel as though the ball of their ball-and-socket hip joint is coming out of position — this can be called “hip subluxation”. However this is rarely the case of what is actually happening because this is very rarely associated with snapping hip syndrome — and usually caused by severe traumatic injuries.
Snapping hip syndrome, also known as dancer’s hip, is a condition in which you hear or feel a snapping sound or sensation in the hip area when walking, running, standing or any leg movement. For many people, the condition is little more than an annoyance and the only symptom is the snapping sound or sensation. But for athletes, snapping hip syndrome symptoms could also include pain and weakness – and when that pain interferes with performance the causes should be examined.

How Does it Feel?
The snapping is most commonly felt when kicking the leg forward or to the side, when bringing the leg behind the body, when rising from a chair, or when rotating the body or the leg. Snapping hip syndrome causes a snapping sensation and sound that can be felt in the front, the side, or the back of the hip. Often, the snapping can be pain free. If it causes pain, the pain usually ceases when the leg movement causing the snapping is stopped. The sensation is often experienced when an individual is required to use their hip to change positions. Often, walking and running in a straight line are snap free and pain free, although in some people, these activities are limited by the pain of the structure that is snapping.

What are the signs of Snapping Hip Syndrome?
Snapping or popping in the front, side, or back of the hip when lifting, lowering, rotating, or swinging the leg
Weakness in the leg when trying to lift it forward or sideways
Tightness in the front, back, or side of the hip
Swelling in the front, back, or side of the hip
Difficulty performing daily activities, such as rising from a chair and walking

What is the cause of this?
Snapping hip syndrome can occur when the hip muscles are excessively used and become fatigued, tight, and/or swollen. Athletic activities like track and field, soccer, weight lifting, horseback riding, cycling, gymnastics, and dance can trigger the condition. It also can occur during everyday activities that require repeated lifting or rotating of the leg outward.
It can occur in different areas of the hip, including:

  • Front: Snapping at the front of the hip can involve the hip flexor muscle rolling over the front of the hip bone, or the hip ligaments rolling over the thigh bone or tissues of the hip joint.
  • Side: This condition involves the iliotibial band (ITB) rolling over the outer thigh bone, or the big muscle on the back of the hip (gluteus maximus) sliding over the outer thigh bone.
  • Back: This condition involves 1 of the hamstring muscles rolling over the bottom of the hip bone.

In most cases, snapping is caused by the movement of a muscle or tendon over a bony structure in the hip. The most common site is on the outside of the hip where a band of connective tissue known as the iliotibial band passes over part of the thigh bone that juts out — called the greater trochanter. When you stand up straight, the band is behind the trochanter. When you bend your hip, however, the band moves over and in front of the trochanter. This may cause the snapping noise.

The iliopsoas tendon, which connects to the inner part of the upper thigh, can also snap with hip movement.

Another site of snapping 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 thighbone 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.

What is the treatment of Snapping Hip Syndrome?

Unless snapping hip syndrome is painful or causes difficulty in sports or other activities, many people do not see a doctor or have it treated.

For minor snapping syndrome pain, try home treatments such as:

  • Reducing or modifying activity
  • Applying ice
  • Using over-the-counter pain relievers
  • For more severe pain or pain that does not improve with home treatment, see your doctor.
  • Physical therapy with emphasis on stretching, strengthening, and alignment can often help.
  • Sometimes, treatment with a corticosteroid injection to the area can relieve inflammation. In rare cases, doctors may recommend surgery.

If you have trouble with a snapping hip and are ready to treat this symptom make an appointment today.

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