Snapping Hip Syndrome

Snapping hip syndrome occurs when tendons located in front of or outside of the hip make a popping sound as the hip is moved from flexed position (knee toward waist) to extended (knee down and hip straight). Complaints occur during activities such as running, dance, and soccer. The snapping typically is not painful, but the muscles and soft tissue in the area can become tender with repetitive exercise.

Treatment for Snapping Hip Syndrome

A few specific stretches at home may relieve symptoms. One is to stretch the hip flexors in front of the hip by lying back on a bed with the non-affected knee to the chest and the affected leg draped off the edge of bed. Another is to stretch the hip abductor muscles on the outside of hip by lying on the back while holding a rope or belt looped around the foot of the straight affected leg, pulling it across the body. A gentle stretching sensation should be felt.

Pain can be alleviated with an ice pack to the affected area several times per day for 15 to 20 minutes. Rest is recommended until the pain has subsided. At that time, a slow progression into the aggravating activity (such as running) can begin with care to avoid the return of any symptoms.

Physical therapy is beneficial for relief of pain and return to activity. This would focus on strengthening of the hip, muscle specific stretching, assessment of biomechanical lower extremity abnormalities, and joint mobilization as needed. Goals of physical therapy are pain relief, lower extremity alignment and function equal to that of the non-affected lower extremity, and return to sport/leisure activity.