Snapping Hip Syndrome

Snapping hip is a common condition where a snapping or popping noise can be heard when the hip flexes or extends. It can be due to various different causes however the audible sound is normally caused by a tendon rubbing over a bony prominence of the pelvis. It is often pain free to begin with, however restricted movement, pain and inflammation can develop as the condition progresses.

There are several kinds of snapping hip that occur:

– external
– internal
– intra-articular

External is where the Illiotibial band or gluteus maximus tightens, leading to rubbing over the greater trochanter. Internal occurs at the iliopsoas shortens and comes into contact with the iliopectinal eminence which protrudes from the front of the pelvis. Intra-articular is the less common but more serious of the syndromes where the noise originates from mechanical changes at the joint itself, such as a labral tear, loose bodies in the joint space or biomechanical changes.

Most commonly found in 15-40 year old athletes, repetitive flexion of the hip is the primary driver behind the development of the syndrome. It can be caused by a wide range of sports from weightlifting and ballet dancing to running and horse riding.

The treatment of snapping hip focuses on identifying the tight hip muscles responsible and loosening them off with relevant stretching and self massage/release, before stabilising the joint with core stability strengthening exercises. Your Physiotherapist will be able to identify which type of snapping hip you have and therefore which muscles are responsible, before prescribing the necessary exercises, which may include:

1) Quad/hip flexor stretch
2) Glute stretch
3) Adductor stretch

All stretches should be held for 30-60s and should not cause pain. You can accelerate the process by self-releasing the tissues on a foam roller or spiky ball at home. If you don’t have one of these, we do have them available in the clinic.

It is also advisable to refrain from any aggravating activities or sports to allow the condition to de sensitise, you can still carry on exercising in another way as long as it’s comfortable to do so. It’s a fairly simple condition to diagnose and treat so if you are having concerns about noises coming from your hips/pelvis then get in touch and we can run through the necessary tests with you.