The hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint where the upper end (head) of the thigh bone (femur) joins with the socket (acetabulum) of the pelvis. It allows for motion and gives the stability needed to bear body weight.
The hip is the area located on each side of the pelvis. The pelvis bone is made up of 3 sections:
- Ilium- The broad, flaring portion of the pelvis.
- Pubis- The lower, rear part of the pelvis.
- Ischium- One of the bones that helps form the hip
The hip is one of the most stable joints in the body. As it bears your body weight, it is more likely to develop arthritis because of the extra pressure. Pain in the hip may be caused by injury to muscles, tendons, or the small fluid-filled sacs (bursae) that cushion and lubricate joints.
WHAT IS A SNAPPING HIP?
Snapping hip syndrome (SHS) is a hip condition in which you feel a snapping sensation or hear a snapping sound in when you move your hip joint, such as when you walk, get up from a chair, or swing your leg around.
The snapping sensation occurs when a muscle or tendon (the strong tissue that connects muscle to bone) moves over a bony protrusion in your hip. There are 3 main types of SHS:
- Internal SHS
Your tendons slide over bone structures at the front of your hip joint. This is the most common type of SHS.
- External SHS
Your tendon or muscle slides over the bone at the top of your thigh bone, or femur.
- Intra-articular SHS
There is the presence of an actual hip joint issue or injury.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A SNAPPING HIP?
Apart from hearing a snapping sound, symptoms of a snapping hip include:
- Pain and inflammation
- Leg muscle weakness when you try to lift your leg or move it sideways
- Tightness in the hip
- Swelling around the hip
- Difficulty with daily activities like walking or standing up from a chair
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS OF A SNAPPING HIP?
A snapping hip is often caused by tightening of the muscles and tendons around the hip. Risk factors of a snapping hip include:
- Sports and activities that involve repeated bending at the hip, such as dancing and gymnastics
- Differences in leg length
- Loose ligaments
- Weakness in the muscles surrounding the hip
- Previous injury to the hip
WHAT IS THE DIAGNOSIS OF A SNAPPING HIP?
A history of the injury and a physical examination of the hip will be conducted by the Doctor. The doctor will find out what activities led to the snapping of your hip, and if you have had previous injury to the hip area.
Imaging tests such as an x-ray will be taken, as well as MRI scan to rule out other possible hip conditions.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR A SNAPPING HIP?
Patients who suffer from a snapping hip can often heal and recover from nonsurgical treatments. These include:
- Applying ice or cold compress on the affected area to reduce pain and swelling
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen
- Resting and reducing activity levels to allow for the hip to heal
- Physiotherapy exercises to regain muscle strength and restore range of motion
Should nonsurgical treatments fail to alleviate your symptoms, surgery may be recommended, although rare. Surgical treatment methods include:
- Iliotibial band release
Your iliotibial band gets lengthened to reduce tension and hip snapping. Recommended for people experiencing pain from external SHS.
- Iliopsoas tendon release
Your iliopsoas tendon gets lengthened to reduces muscle tension and may decrease hip clicking. Recommended for people with internal SHS.
- Arthroscopic hip debridement
A small incision is made at the hip joint cavity to remove debris. Recommended for people with intra-articular SHS.
WHAT ARE THE COMPLICATIONS OF A SNAPPING HIP?
Should a snapping hip be left untreated, this may result in complications. Complications include:
- Persistent hip pain
An untreated snapping hip can grow and this may evolve into intense discomfort.
- Painful bursa or hip bursitis
Iliotibial band syndrome is a common cause of snapping hip, and this can lead to an irritated bursa or potential hip bursitis.
- Iliopsoas tendon snap
Although an iliopsoas tendon snap may not cause physical pain or decrease mobility, this snapping sensation can disrupt your daily routines and activities.