Snap, Crackle & Pop

Is that Snapping Hips Syndrome? 

1. Internal Snapping Hip

When a tendon slides over a bit of bone, the result is a snap. This is by far the most common and usually caused by Iliopsoas slipping over a protrusion of the pelvis called the iliopectineal prominence or Rectus Femoris, your main quadriceps muscle moving over the head of the femur (your thigh bone).

Symptoms?

  • Popping when running, or when the hip is flexed more than 90degrees or rotates away from the body.
  • Popping with a sharp sudden pain at the front deep in the groin.
  • Pain worsens with activity
  • The original onset is vague and may have begun as a mild annoyance.

Treatment Required? Not always. If pain is present then yes as it is important to offload the irritated tendon and make sure the iliopsoas bursa isn’t involved but usually just lots of stretching and flexibility work should resolve the issue in a couple of weeks.

2. External Snapping HipThis is also when a tendon slides over a bit of bone but this time between the bone and the skin rather than deeper in the pelvis. This is still very common and usually caused by the ITB (iliotibial band) or Gluteus Maximus slipping over part of the top of the femur called the greater trochanter.

Symptoms?

  • Popping when the hip is flexing and extending e.g. when climbing stairs. Carrying heavy bags or playing golf or tennis makes this more prominent.
  • Popping with a sharp sudden pain on the outside of the hip. Sometimes this can be seen too.
  • The hip feels like it may pop out of its socket (it’s not, don’t worry!)
  • The original onset is vague and may have begun as a mild annoyance.

Treatment Required? More often than not, treatment is needed to nudge a patient in the right direction for rehabilitation. If pain is present then this is a must as your gait is likely to have been affected, which can lead to further problems down the line.

3. Intra-Articular Snapping Hip

This is a problem with the hip itself. Less common but not unheard and should always be treated professionally.Causes?

  • Acetabular Labral Tear – When the tough cartilage that rings the hip joint tears. Symptoms include snapping and pain in the groin area. The most common cause of intra-articular snapping hip.
  • Injury to articular cartilage – the surface of the joint is damaged causing aching deep in the hip, not always snapping.
  • Loose bodies in the hip – When a fragment of bone or soft tissue breaks away and gets trapped between the hip joint causing snapping or a vague locking sensation in the hip.
  • The original onset is usually traumatic and pain starts immediately.

Treatment Required? Yes, identifying what is going on with this form of snapping hip is important as the longer it goes on the longer term the effect on the function of your body.

These are the musculoskeletal causes of a snapping hip. There are other things that may cause a change in the biomechanics of the hip which may mimic this, from arthritis to infection to tumours. It is really important that these more serious causes of any pain you are experiencing is ruled out.

So if you are struggling, then our team is always here to help, whether that is on email, phone or in person.