Are there different types of snapping hip syndrome?
Individuals who have a hip that pops, clicks or snaps during particular movements may have snapping hip syndrome. For those who experience this uncomfortable sensation and an audible click when they bend at the hip, it is called coxa saltans or “dancer’s hip.” In some individuals, the snapping hip can be seen as the muscles visibly shudder with certain movements. Other individuals may just feel a catching in their hip joint. Each of these symptoms is classified into three types of snapping hip:
External snapping hip syndrome is associated with the iliotibial band (ITB). This wide, thick tendon runs along the outside of the hip joint and the outer thigh area (from the pelvis to below the knee). While the iliotibial band is very important for stabilizing the knee, especially during certain activities such as running, it is also very important to the hip joint. When this tendon becomes tight, it can limit flexibility of the hip rotators and rub over a bony structure outside of the hip joint, the greater trochanter, causing snapping sounds and inflammation of associated tissue.
External snapping hip syndrome is not always associated with pain, and some athletes who have a popping sensation may still be able to compete in their sport. However, if persistent pain and weakness occurs with the hip popping and snapping, many of these individuals will often need to seek treatment in order to return to their peak performance level.
Internal snapping hip syndrome is associated with the iliopsoas tendon. This tendon connects two inner hip muscles called the iliacus and psoas muscles to the femur (thighbone) and moves over a protrusion of the pelvic bone called the iliopectineal eminence. The tendon inserts below the hip joint, on the lesser trochanter of the femur. The tendon flipping back and forth across the front of the hip can often produce an audible “clunk” that can be heard, although other times it is more subtle. Typically, the clunking sensation occurs as the hip goes from a flexed to an extended position. This is present normally in 5 to 10% of the population and is not an indication of progressive damage or future problems.
Cartilage injury snapping hip may develop suddenly and may be caused by a fall, direct hit or other trauma. This type of snapping hip is often accompanied by a catching sensation and a limited range of motion. Cartilage injuries that may cause snapping hip syndrome are:
- Acetabular Labral Tear – Injury to the cartilage that forms the tough, flexible ring around the hip socket which holds the ball of the femur (thigh bone) within the joint.
- Articular Cartilage Damage – The fibrocartilage that covers the ends of the bones and allows them to move smoothly and painlessly against each other.
- Loose Bodies – Fragmented tissue or bone that breaks away from its correct position and can be caused by trauma. These fragments or pieces of tissue can get caught in the hip and ball socket of the hip, causing catching or a snapping sensation. People who have snapping hip syndrome with painful symptoms should consult an orthopedic hip specialist. This medical professional can give an accurate diagnosis and help develop a treatment plan to alleviate pain and minimize possible future joint damage.