Snapping Hip Syndrome- What you need to know

Snapping Hip Syndrome: What You Need to Know

What is Snapping Hip Syndrome?

Snapping hip syndrome (SHS) is a medical condition in which people feel a snapping sensation or even hear a snapping sound in their hips. The sound or the feeling of snapping is produced when a stretched tendon or a muscle is released. The excessive use of hip muscles or tendons leads to their inflammation, and as a result, snapping appears. Snapping hip syndrome commonly affects women.

What are the causes of Snapping Hip Syndrome?

Snapping hip syndrome is of three types. These types, along with their causes, are as follows:

  • Internal SHS: It occurs when the iliopsoas tendon or quadriceps (thigh muscles) slide over bony structures on the front of the hip joint. Internal SHS is the second most common type of snapping hip syndrome.
  • External SHS: When the iliotibial tract (a band of connective tissue on the outer side of the thigh) slides over a bony structure on the femur—called the greater trochanter. It is the most common form of SHS.
  • Intra-articular SHS: It is not caused by stretching of tendon or muscle but rather by an injury to the cartilages of the hip joint or distortion of shape of head of humerus.

What are the symptoms of Snapping Hip Syndrome?

As the name suggests, snapping hip syndrome causes an audible clicking or popping sound. Other symptoms may include:

  • Pain (less common)
  • The feeling of the leg being unstable
  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Difficulty performing regular activities

How to diagnose Snapping Hip Syndrome?

The doctor will make the diagnosis based on the following:

  • Symptoms such as pain, swelling, and popping, clicking, or snapping sound or sensation
  • Medical history such as of your profession, physical activities, or any past injury
  • Physical examination to check for the range of leg motion and hear snapping by asking you to perform certain activities.
  • Imaging tests such as X-rays and MRIs to check for bone fractures, soft tissue injuries and rule out other possible conditions such as arthritis

What is the prognosis of Snappin Hip Syndrome?

Snapping hip syndrome is a relatively mild disorder. Conservative treatment options such as physical therapy, rest, and OTC medications are enough to bring the symptoms under control. But, sometimes surgery may become necessary.

What are the treatments of Snapping Hip Syndrome?

Your doctor will recommend the following treatments:

  • Over-the-counter pain medications such as naproxen to relieve pain if any
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen to relieve inflammation. The doctor may recommend a steroid injection for this purpose as well.
  • Reducing or modifying activities that cause pain and snapping. Applying ice and heat on the affected side may also prove effective.
  • Physical therapy for strengthening leg muscles and increase your range of motion.
  • Nerve block for pain reduction.
  • Intraarticular steroid injection in some specific conditions.
  • Surgery is the last resort. It is only recommended when other options fail.

Read more on snapping hip syndrome.