Snapping hip syndrome is a condition wherein one can hear popping sounds while walking, getting up from the chair, or while swinging the legs. It is a painless and harmless condition;however, it can be annoying. This article provides more information about the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available for this joint condition.
The hip joint is a crucial joint of the body that connects the legs with the torso. The joint is protected and stabilized by various structural components that include bones, muscles, and other soft tissues. Fluid-filled sacs called bursae are located in strategic spots around the hip, which provide cushioning and help in the hip movement. Snapping hip syndrome is a condition wherein the affected person experiences a snapping sensation on walking, getting up from a chair, or swinging the legs.
The popping sound occurs when a muscle or tendon moves over a bony protrusion in your hip. The condition can occur in different parts of the hip, and the most common site of the condition is outside the hip. Here, a band of connective tissue known as iliotibial band, passes over a part of thigh bone that bulges out (the greater trochanter). Another site of snapping is ball and socket joint of the hip. The sound comes when the rectus femoris tendon (which runs from inside the thighbone up through the pelvis), moves across the ball when the hip is bent and straightened out.
The problem is commonly found in people who are involved in dancing and other sports activities, as these activities involve constant bending of hip. Ballet dancers and young athletes are also vulnerable to this condition. For this reason, it is often referred to as dancer’s hip. Other professionals like gymnasts, horse riders, runners, weightlifters, etc., may also develop this problem. People in the age group of 15 to 40 years are mostly affected by it.
The most identifiable symptom of this condition is a snapping sound, which can be heard when the hip joint is flexed or stretched for leg movements during activities like cycling, walking, or kicking. The location of this sensation depends on the connective tissue which has been damaged. When the iliotibial band gets affected, the snapping occurs at the side of the hip. When the iliopsoas located at the front part of the hip joint changes its position, then the popping sound is felt on the frontal hip region. Based on the position of the affected joint structure, the condition is classified into two different types: intra-articular, which means inside joint and extra-articular, which means outside joints.
Initially, it does not give rise to any painful symptoms. However, with the passage of time, as the connective tissue starts wearing out, one experiences a sharp hip pain along with the popping sound. However, the pain disappears as soon as the repetitive joint movement is stopped. If the condition is left untreated, then the pain worsens, and swelling and tenderness can be felt in the area.
As long as the syndrome does not give rise to any pain, the condition does not require any treatment. A slight correction or modification in the hip joint movements during activities can bring about improvement. However, as soon as the pain starts, rest the hip joints and stop any such action that may aggravate the pain. In case of swelling, application of ice is recommended.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can give temporary relief to the pain. Doctors may also administer cortisone injections, for severe pain and inflammation. As the pain subsides, doctors recommend physical therapy, which involves mild stretching of the affected tendons. Standing side bends and crossed leg side bends are some of the recommended exercises. Deep tissue massage of thigh and buttock muscles may also prove effective in some cases. In some serious cases, where the tissue is badly damaged, surgery might be recommended. During this surgery, a small incision is made in the hip area to repair the damage.
People at the risk of developing this condition, can prevent it with the help of suitable hip exercises. These are mainly some hip stretches, that make the muscles of the hip area strong and flexible. These exercises should be performed prior to any strenuous activity involving the hips. This helps reduce the chances of displacement of the tissues because of abrupt hip movements.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.