Snapping Hip

Snapping hip syndrome, sometimes also known as dancer’s hip, refers to a condition in which you hear a snapping sound or feel a snapping sensation in your hip when you perform certain movements like run, walk, swing your leg around, or get up from a seated position. Snapping hip is often the result of inflamed muscle tendons in the hip rubbing over the hip socket bone or the proximal thigh bone. As the muscle stretches, tension is created that results in a snapping sensation when released.


While snapping hip syndrome may be harmless most of the time, it can cause pain and inflammation, affecting activity. Furthermore, if you’re an athlete or dancer, then as this condition progresses, it can cause pain and eventually affect your overall performance.

a person holding his/her hip pain

The most common symptom experienced by patients with snapping hip syndrome is an audible snapping or clicking sound or popping sensation that is felt when moving your hip. Initially, the snapping may be pain free, but over time, you might feel a dull ache or pain.


Some of the other symptoms you may experience with this condition include: 

  • Inflammation 
  • Swelling 
  • The feeling of your hip is coming out of place
  • Leg muscle weakness when attempting to lift your leg sideways or forward 
  • Difficulty performing simple/regular physical activities like walking or getting up from a chair




The main cause of snapping hip syndrome is tightness in the muscles and tendons that surround the hip. This condition tends to be more prevalent in people who are involved in sports as well as activities that require them to repeatedly bend at the hip, e.g. dancers. Young adults are also more likely to suffer from snapping hip since the tightness in the muscle structures of the hip is common during the growth spurts experienced. 


However, another common cause of snapping hip is a labral tear. The labrum is a soft tissue that surrounds the socket of your hip joint (acetabulum), and untreated labral tears can result in progressive pain and activity limitation, with the risk of progression to hip arthritis.




Before recommending you with the ideal treatment option, your orthopaedic doctor will have to determine the exact cause of your snapping hip by understanding your medical history, evaluating your symptoms, and performing a physical examination. 


The orthopaedic doctor may also order imaging tests like x-rays and an MRI scan to rule out other hip disorders such as: 

  • Hip labral tears
  • Hip loose bodies
  • Hip cartilage damage
  • Hip arthritis 
  • Inflammation or tumours in the membrane lining of hip joint 




Snapping hip syndrome is usually painless and as such, initial treatment is nonsurgical, typically involving a period of rest and modification of activities. This allows your muscles and tendons to heal. If your snapping hip causes you discomfort, then your orthopaedic doctor may prescribe pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medication. You may need to undergo physical therapy to stretch out the tight muscles and improve your range of motion. If the snapping is persistent especially when associated with pain, a steroid injection is recommended for pain relief and reduce inflammation.


Surgery is only recommended when your condition does not respond positively to conservative treatment over a period of time. This can usually be done as a keyhole procedure, such as hip arthroscopy, to repair a labral tear or remove loose bodies, or endoscopy to release the tight muscles and remove the surrounding inflamed tissue.


Every case is different; hence it is best to consult an orthopaedic surgeon for an accurate diagnosis so that you can obtain the best treatment option that is most suitable for you. Reach out to us today if you suspect that you are suffering from snapping hip syndrome and let us help you enjoy a better quality of life. 


Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

1) When do you need surgery for a Snapping Hip?

The first line of treatment prescribed for a Snapping Hip is usually conservative and non-surgical. Usually rest, a change in activity level, and recovery is recommended. Pain relievers, anti-inflammatory medication, and physical therapy may be prescribed for more severe cases.
Surgery is only required if your condition shows little to no improvement from conservative treatment protocols. Surgery is done to repair labral tears, remove loose pieces of cartilage, or to release or lengthen a tight tendon or muscle. Every case of Snapping Hip is unique and a consultation with a qualified Orthopaedic surgeon must be done to evaluate the condition.

2) Can Snapping Hip be prevented?

Snapping Hip is due to tightness in the muscles and tendons around the hip or because of a labral tear. There are many factors that contribute to Snapping Hip and as such it may be possible to reduce the risk of developing the condition, but it may not be preventable.
Some ways to reduce the risk of developing Snapping Hip include: 

  • Proper warm up before exercises or intense physical activity 
  • Gradual increase in intensity when starting a new sport 
  • Having good physical conditioning by following a proper strength and flexibility programme
  • Maintaining a healthy weight 
  • Avoiding activities that put excess strain on the hip joint
  • Using proper equipment and wearing the right attire when engaged in high-impact activities

3) Can Snapping Hip lead to more serious conditions?

In most cases, Snapping Hip is not a serious condition and does not lead to any long-term complications. However in rare instances, Snapping Hip could be a symptom of an underlying problem like a labral tear or a hip impingement, which can cause pain and discomfort in the hip joint.
If left untreated, these conditions can lead to more serious complications such as osteoarthritis, chronic pain, and reduced mobility. With that considered, it’s always best to have a consultation with a trained medical professional if you experience persistent pain or discomfort in your hip joint, especially if you also hear a snapping or popping sound during movement.