Snapping hip is a condition in which the hip makes a popping noise and sensation when it is flexed and/or extended. It is common in athletes and dancers. It is normally not painful, but it can be irritating.
Typically, the snapping is the sensation of a muscle or tendon moving over the bony structures of the hip. The most common area people perceive snapping is on the outside of the thigh, where connective tissue (the iliotibial band, or IT band) passes over the greater trochanter, which is a prominent part of the thigh bone. As the hip bends, the iliotibial band, which is like a stretched rubber band, moves from behind the trochanter to the front of it, causing the snapping sensation. If this is the cause of snapping hip, patients may also develop bursitis, an inflammation of the bursa, or fluid-filled sac that lies over the trochanter and helps muscle glide smoothly over the bone.
Another common area where people perceive snapping is on the front of the hip, where the tendon that runs inside of the thighbone up through the pelvis (iliopsoas tendon) lies. As the hip bends and extends, the tendon shifts back and forth across the hip socket, causing the snapping sensation.
Common symptoms related to snapping hip are:
Your child’s doctor will determine what is causing the snapping by reviewing your child’s medical history and symptoms and by conducting a physical exam. In some cases, the doctor may request an imaging test, such as an X-ray. Snapping hip will not show up on an X-ray, but the tests are used to rule out any other anatomic problems in the bones or joint.
Unless the snapping is causing pain, treatment from a doctor is not necessary.
Possible non-surgical treatments your doctor may recommend include:
Surgery is rare but may be needed if non-surgical treatments are ineffective. If your child is suspected to have a cartilage or labral tear, which may mimic snapping hip, an MRI will be ordered, and surgery may be performed to repair or remove the damaged soft tissue.
Snapping that is not causing pain does not require any treatment, but at-home treatment options for painful snapping hip include: