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Snapping Hip Syndrome

Brief Outline of Snapping Hip Syndrome

Snapping hip syndrome is a condition where a snapping or popping sensation is felt in the hip with hip flexion and extension. There are a few possible causes for this, most commonly a tendon snapping over a bony prominence. Rarely, it can be from a tear in the cartilage of the hip joint. This syndrome may present with pain or not, and is particularly prevalent in dancers.

Anatomy and physiology

External snapping hip syndrome can be the result of a tight iliotibial (IT) band or gluteus maximus muscle snapping over the greater trochanteric of the femur. When landing from a jump, running, climbing or squatting these tendons are forced over the bony prominence of the greater trochanter. This causes inflammation of the muscle and tendons.

Internal snapping syndrome may be caused by the iliopsoas tendon snapping over the iliopectineal eminence of the hip. In more rare cases, tearing of the cartilage (labral tears) or loose bodies in the hip joint may cause snapping as well.

Cause of Snapping Hip Syndrome

Tight iliotibial band or buttock muscles. Tight iliopsoas muscle. Labral tear.

Signs and symptoms

Snapping sensation in the hip. May or may not present with pain (more commonly reported as discomfort).

Complications if left unattended

Snapping hip syndrome can lead to irritation, and possible rupture of the underlying bursa if left untreated. The inflamed muscle becomes tight and can cause stress on other muscles as well.


  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Injection
  • Physiotherapy

Rehabilitation and prevention

Rehabilitation of snapping hip syndrome starts with stretching and strengthening the muscles of the hip. A balance in strength and flexibility of all the muscles will help prevent snapping hip syndrome. Proper warm-up of the hip muscles is important before beginning any activity that involves flexion or extension to maje sure the muscles are adequately prepared for the activity. It is also important to maintain fitness levels while resting, using activities that do not aggravate the affected area.

Long-term prognosis

Snapping hip syndrome seldom requires more than the initial treatment and rehabilitation to recovery fully. In very rare cases, surgical interventions may be required to correct the problem.

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