Snapping Hip Syndrome

What is snapping hip syndrome?

Snapping hip syndrome is when your hip makes a snapping sound or feels like it is snapping when it is moved. You may hear or feel this sensation when getting up from sitting, walking, running or when you are moving your hip around.

Most of the time this snapping sound or feeling of snapping is just inconvenient but in some individuals the snapping causes pain and/or weakness. The pain that may occur from snapping hip syndrome is created by bursitis (inflammation and fluid filled sacs). Often with rest and lessened activity the inflammation becomes less.

When your muscle or tendon moves over a bony part of your hip it makes the snapping feeling or sound. The snapping can occur from inside or outside the joint.

Snapping hip syndrome is also known as dancer’s hip, coxa saltans or iliopsoas tendinitis.


The site where your iliotibial band passes over your greater trochanter is where most snapping comes from. There can also be snapping from the iliopsoas tendon. The rectus femoris tendon can make a snapping noise and/or create pain as well in the hip joint. There are also other less common ways to create snapping and/or pain like when there are broken bones or pieces of cartilage within the joint, cartilage tears or free cartilage debris causing the hip to lock up.

Snapping is most commonly caused by tension in the tendons and muscles of the hip. Young athletes or dancers are most commonly at risk. The repeated bending of the hip most likely causes the snapping. People from 15-40 years old are those most commonly affected.

snapping hip syndrome surgery


  • Audible snapping or popping sound from hip joint when moving
  • Popping or snapping sensation in hip joint when moving
  • Pain associated with snapping
  • Symptoms can last months to years when left untreated


Outside the joint (extra articular)

  • Lateral

    • Iliotibial band, tensor fasciae latae or gluteus medius tendon slide across the greater trochanter of the femur
    • The connective tissue thickens from repetitive motion and catches with motion
    • Inflammation of the bursa (trochanteric bursitis) can occur from these processes causing pain
  • Medial

    • Iliopsoas tendon catches on the  iliopectineal ridge, lesser trochanter or anterior inferior iliac spine
    • Pain can occur from the friction causing inflammation or muscle trauma

Inside the joint (intra articular)

  • Iliopsoas or hip flexor runs over anterior superior labrum of the hip
  • Intra-articular hip derangements like tears, impingement or loose debris can cause an effusion that leads to snapping symptomology

Front of the hip

  • The rectus femoris tendon can also cause snapping symptoms
  • A back and forth motion across the thigh bone causes this snapping

Back of the hip

  • The hamstring tendon can cause snapping in the back of the hip
  • The tendon can catch on the ischial tuberosity

Image result for snapping hip syndrome surgery



  • Medical history and symptoms
  • Physical examination
  • They may ask you where the pain is
  • What kinds of activities create the snapping and/or pain
  • If you can re-create the snapping
  • Previous injuries to the site
  • X-rays will help rule out other problems that can contribute to the pain in your joints and bones
  • May check muscle and tendon strength and/or length, check out this link
  • Range of motion testing
  • Ultrasound may be warranted
  • MRI can sometimes help to see if the damage in inside the joint


If the snapping is painless then it most likely does not need intervention.

Home Remedies

Initial treatment for minor snapping pain may include self treatment.

If the symptoms do not resolve themselves in forty eight to seventy two hours then seek medical advice.

Medical Treatment

  • Physical therapy, prescribed exercises
  • Injection therapy, corticosteroid injections may be considered
  • Surgical treatment, if other therapies are not successful then consult with a surgeon may be warranted (arthroscopy or open procedure)


Exercise therapy

Image result for iliotibial band stretch

Image result for Piriformis stretch

  • Quadriceps stretch
    • Stand next to the wall
    • Place hand (non painful side) onto the wall for support
    • Hold onto your ankle (painful side) with your free hand
    • Keep your knees together
    • Pull that ankle up towards your buttocks
    • Hold that pose for thirty seconds
    • Three repetitions on that side

Image result for quadriceps stretch diagram

  • Hamstring stretch
    • Lie in a supine position (on your back)
    • Raise the painful leg
    • Rest it on the wall for support
    • Hold that pose for thirty seconds
    • Three repetitions on each side

Image result for hamstring stretch diagram wallReference List:

1. Best Massage, Available from:
2. Bone Talks. Available from:
3. NuChiro, Available from:
4. Med Health, Available from:
5. Ortho Info, Last reviewed April 2013. Available from:
6. Shaw Chiropractic, Available from:
7. Vitality Clinic, Available from:
8. WebMD Medical Reference, Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on April 21, 2015. Available from:
9. Wikipedia, Last Reviewed September 7, 2016. Available from:

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