Snapping Hip Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Options

The hip is a ball and socket joint surrounded by ligaments and tendons that hold it tightly together. These muscles connect the hips to other body structures, such as the thigh and pelvic bones. This then allows the hips to move with ease and be flexible. 

But of course, no matter how strong and tough these muscles are, they can still sustain injuries and develop disorders over time. One example of a hip condition that commonly affects competitive athletes is the snapping hip syndrome.

Read below to learn more about this condition and how an orthopedic specialist can effectively manage and treat it.

What is snapping hip syndrome?

Snapping hip syndrome, also known as dancer’s hip or coxa saltans, affects about 5% to 10% of the general population. 

It is a condition that occurs when a tendon (a tough tissue that connects muscles to bones) abnormally moves over the bony protrusion in the area during movement. It will then go back to its original place as you straighten your hip joints. 

As a result, individuals affected with this syndrome can hear an audible snapping or popping sound or sensation in the hip area. Snapping hip syndrome may be classified into several types, depending on the specific hip are it occurs:

What are the symptoms of snapping hip syndrome?

Snapping hip syndrome may start suddenly or develop over time. It will depend on the main cause of the condition and its type. But generally, most people with this disorder can experience one or more of the following symptoms:

Fortunately, most cases of snapping hips are painless and harmless. However, it should be addressed as soon as possible to avoid injuring the nearby hip structures or the tendon itself.

What causes snapping hip syndrome?

Most snapping hip syndromes happen as a result of hip muscle overuse or repetitive motion. This causes the affected tendon to become tight and more vulnerable to “snapping.” Individuals who are at risk include athletes that do repeated hip flexion and extension, such as ballet dancers, marathon runners, and gymnastics.

How do doctors diagnose snapping hip syndrome?

Orthopedic specialists can diagnose snapping hip syndrome through a complete medical history evaluation. They will also perform a series of physical examinations wherein you’ll be required to do simple activities that will recreate the snapping sound. 

Other diagnostic tests may include an X-ray or MRI to rule out other disorders that may be causing the popping sound. These imaging tests can also reveal other conditions or injuries in the surrounding area, such as bursitis.

What are the treatment options for snapping hip syndrome?

Generally, individuals do not seek a specialist for snapping hip syndrome unless there’s pain and discomfort. Typically, doctors recommend conservative treatment options first. Surgery will become an option if the affected hip is unresponsive to such methods.

Non-surgical treatment

Your orthopedic doctor will recommend you do one or more of the following to manage your snapping hip syndrome:

Surgical treatment for snapping hip syndrome

If symptoms persist or the condition worsens, your orthopedic specialist will need to recommend and perform surgery. They will discuss the best surgical technique that will meet your medical needs, such as hip arthroscopy or an open hip procedure.

Fortunately, it’s rare for snapping hip syndrome not to respond to medications and other conservative methods. So, it’s not common to treat this condition with surgery.

However, if the snapping sound comes from an injured or damaged cartilage. 

Orthopedic Center in Boca Raton

Orthopaedic Surgery Associates — Home of superior orthopedic medical care and treatment services

If you are experiencing hip pain or think you may need surgery to correct a problem with your hip joint, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Orthopaedic Surgery Associates

At Orthopaedic Surgery Associates, we offer comprehensive and individualized treatment for each patient’s specific needs. 

For hip conditions, our board-certified physicians have a range of treatment options, including hip arthroscopy

In addition to treatment for hip injuries, we also specialize in treating all other orthopedic conditions, including foot and ankle, knee, spine, and shoulder. 

Our team of orthopedic specialists are available at three convenient locations:

Questions? No problem—Contact us here!


The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.


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