Snapping Hip Syndrome
Snapping Hip Syndrome (Dancer’s Hip) describes a hip disorder in which you hear a snapping sound or feel a snapping sensation in your hip when you walk, run, get up from a chair, or swing your leg around.
The snapping sensation is caused when a muscle or tendon (iliotibial band) that has become inflamed and tight moves over a bony part of your hip. Though less common, the snapping can also be caused by cartilage damage in the hip joint.
Although snapping hip is usually painless and harmless, the sensation can be annoying. Snapping hip isn’t always a significant concern, it is usually painless and harmless, the sensation can be annoying. In some people it’s more of a nuisance than anything. But for athletes and people who enjoy being active, the condition can affect strength and performance. In some cases, snapping hip leads to bursitis, a painful swelling of the fluid-filled sacs that cushion the hip joint.
Diagnosing Snapping Hip Syndrome
Tendons in the hip can snap at different locations, but it most commonly occurs along the outside of the hip, where connective tissue known as the IT band (or iliotibial band) passes over the thigh bone that juts out, a bone called the greater trochanter. IT bands are often tight in athletes, such as runners and cyclists, due to repeated flexion and extension of the hip and knee.
In addition to the outer hip, snapping can occur in the front or back of the hip, depending on which tendons are involved. A tight rectus femoris tendon, which runs from the front of the thigh to the pelvis, will cause the hip to snap in front; a tight hamstring tendon can cause snapping at the back.
Snapping hip caused by inflamed and tight tendons and muscles can be bothersome, but for many people it doesn’t lead to more serious complications. It can however cause a painful condition called bursitis, where a fluid-filled sac in the hip joint swells. The condition is also more likely to be painful when the snapping or popping sensation is caused by damaged cartilage in the hip joint.
Treatment and Management for Snapping Hip Syndrome
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, snapping hip can often be resolved without a visit to your sports medicine doctor or physical therapist. You may be able to reduce inflammation in the involved tendons by resting and avoiding activities that force you to flex and extend your hip repeatedly. Applying ice to your hip and taking over-the-counter medicine, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (aspirin or ibuprofen) can also help reduce inflammation.
If you’re a professional or avid recreational athlete, however, you may want to take a more aggressive approach to treatment, since it’s likely that you’ll continue to use your hip and surrounding tendons in a way that might cause inflammation again.
Treatment can include physical therapy; specifically exercises to stretch the IT band, quads, hamstrings, and piriformis, a muscle located in buttocks near the top of the hip joint. Your physical therapist may also give you exercises to build strength and adjust the alignment of your hips to avoid re-injury.
If snapping hip has progressed to a more severe problem and you’ve developed a bursitis, your doctor may inject your hip joint with a corticosteroid to reduce inflammation. And though not common, there are cases of snapping hip that are treated with surgery. Surgery can be done through an arthroscope or as an open procedure and allows the doctor to better examine the problem in the hip and, if necessary, repair cartilage damage.
Our goal at OSMI is to provide our patients quality, cutting-edge orthopedic treatments, both surgical and non-surgical. If you have questions or concerns about joint pain, or for more information about arthroscopic surgery, please submit an online appointment request or contact our office at 817-529-1900.