Snapping Hip

Snapping hip is a condition that is characterized by a snapping sensation within the hip while performing activities such as walking or swinging your leg around.  Often a 'popping' noise can also be heard.  Commonly found in athletes and dancers, the snapping hip sensation is normally not painful, but rather irritating.  


Causes of snapping hip

The snapping sensation comes from the movement of a muscle or tendon moving over bone structures of the hip. The most common area where people get snapping hip is on the outside of the thigh, where connective tissue (the iliotibial band, or IT band) passes over the at portion of the thighbone, also known as the greater trochanter. As the hip bends, the iliotibial band, which is like a stretched rubber band, moves from beneath the trochanter so that it is over it causing the snapping sensation. If this is the cause of snapping hip, patients may also develop hip bursitis, which is an in ammation of the bursa, uid- lled sacs that help that help muscle glide smoothly over bone. 

Another area that causes snapping hip is the tendon that runs inside of the thighbone up through the pelvis (iliopsoas tendon). When you bend and straighten your hip, the tendon shifts back and forth across the head of the thighbone, which causes the snapping. 


Your doctor will determine what is causing your snapping by asking you:

  • Where the snapping hurts
  • What kinds of activities cause the snapping
  • Whether you can demonstrate the snapping
  • If you have experienced any trauma to the hip area 


Treatment from a doctor is not necessary unless your snapping hip is painful. If your snapping hip bothers you, but not to the point of returning to the doctor, try the following home treatment options:

  • Apply ice
  • Reduce your activity levels. Modify exercise activities to avoid repetitive movement of the hips
  • Use aspirin or ibuprofen to reduce discomfort

If there is still discomfort after trying these methods, consult your physician for professional treatment.

  • For tendinous causes, stretching exercises or physical therapy may be prescribed by your physician.
  • Surgery is rare, but may be needed if conservative treatments are not effective.
  • If you have hip bursitis, your physician may recommend an injection of a corticosteroid to reduce in ammation
  • For cartilage tears, an MRI may be ordered and surgery may be performed to remove the torn cartilage