Snapping Hip Syndrome (SHS), also known as Coxa Saltans, is a condition that is characterized by a snapping sensation, and/or audible “snap” or “click” noise, in or around the hip when it is in motion. There are various causes for snapping hip syndrome, which can be further classified as external, internal, or intra-articular in origin (See Below). For most people this condition is simply an annoyance; however it may result in both pain and weakness interfering with the patient’s functional mobility.
What causes snapping hip syndrome?
There are three primary causes for snapping hip syndrome:
- Iliotibial Band Snap
The iliotibial band is a thick, wide tendon over the outside of the hip joint. The most common cause of snapping hip syndrome is when the Iliotibial band (or “IT band”) snaps over the greater trochanter (the bony prominence over the outside of the hip joint). If this is the cause of snapping hip syndrome, patients may develop trochanteric bursitis from the irritation of the bursa in this region.
- Iliopsoas Tendon Snap
The iliopsoas tendon is the primary hip flexor muscle, and the tendon of this muscle passes just in front of the hip joint. The iliopsoas tendon can catch on a bony prominence of the pelvis and cause a snap when the hip is flexed. Usually when the iliopsoas tendon is the cause of snapping hip syndrome, patients have no problems, but may find the snapping annoying.
- Hip Labral Tear
The least common cause of snapping hip syndrome is a tear of the cartilage within the hip joint. If there is a loose flap of cartilage catching within the joint, this may cause a snapping sensation when the hip is moved. This cause of snapping hip syndrome typically causes a snapping sensation, but rarely an audible “pop.” This cause of snapping hip syndrome may also cause an unsteady feeling, and patients may grab for support when the hip snaps.
Most people do not bother seeing a doctor for snapping hip unless they experience some pain. Our doctor will first determine the exact cause of the snapping. You may be asked where it hurts, what kinds of activities bring on the snapping, whether you can demonstrate the snapping, or whether you have experienced any trauma to the hip area.
You may also be asked to stand and move your hip in various directions to reproduce the snapping. Our doctor may even be able to feel the tendon moving as you bend or extend your hip.
X-rays of people with snapping hip are typically normal, but they may be requested along with other tests so that our doctor can rule out any problems with the bones or joint.
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