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Snapping Hip Syndrome

Snapping Hip Syndrome | Orchard Health Clinic

What is Snapping Hip Syndrome (SHS)?

Snapping Hip Syndrome (SHS) medically referred to as Coxa Saltans is a hip disorder. A person with Snapping Hip Syndrome may hear a snapping sound or feel a snapping sensation when they move their hip joint. When muscle tendons become inflamed, often from overuse, they can click as they rub over the hip socket bone. Snapping Hip Syndrome is more common in women, though it can affect people of all genders and ages.

Types of Snapping Hip Syndrome (SHS)

There are three main types of snapping hip syndrome namely Internal, External and Intra-articular. Internal Snapping Hip Syndrome occurs when the tendons slide over bone structures at the front of the hip joint. External Snapping Hip Syndrome occurs when the tendon or muscle slides over the bone at the top of the thigh bone (femur). In intra-articular Snapping Hip Syndrome, a snapping hip is caused by an actual hip joint issue or injury.

Causes of Snapping Hip Syndrome (SHS)

In most cases, snapping is caused by the movement of a muscle or tendon over a bony structure in the hip. The most common site is on the outside of the hip where a band of connective tissue known as the iliotibial band passes over part of the thigh bone that juts out called the greater trochanter. When standing up straight, the band is behind the trochanter. When bending the hip, however, the band moves over and in front of the trochanter. This may cause the snapping noise. The iliopsoas tendon, which connects to the inner part of the upper thigh can also snap with hip movement.

Another site of snapping is where the ball at the top of the thigh bone fits into the socket in the pelvis to form the hip joint. The snapping occurs when the rectus femoris tendon, which runs from inside the thigh bone (femur) up through the pelvis, moves back and forth across the ball when the hip is bent and straightened. Less commonly, a cartilage tear or bits of broken cartilage or bone in the joint space can cause snapping or a loose piece of cartilage can cause the hip to lock up. This can cause pain and disability.

Symptoms of Snapping Hip Syndrome (SHS)

Snapping Hip Syndrome can result in an audible snapping or clicking sound. It often causes no pain, but one may feel a clicking or popping sensation when flexing the hip. Other symptoms that may be experienced with this condition include pain, inflammation, leg muscle weakness when trying to lift the leg sideways or forward, swelling, difficulty with regular physical activity such as walking or rising from a chair and feeling the hip is coming out of place.

Snapping Hip Syndrome (SHS) Treatment

Physical therapy is recommended for Snapping Hip Syndrome (SHS). A physical therapist will choose specific activities and treatments to help restore normal movement in the leg and hip. These might start with movements of the leg and hip joint that the physical therapist gently performs for the patient and progress to active exercises and stretches. Treatment for Snapping Hip Syndrome often involves manual therapy techniques called trigger point release and soft tissue mobilisation, as well as specific stretches for muscles that might be abnormally tight and to correct any muscle imbalances. Appropriate exercises that will restore strength, power, and agility will be prescribed. These may be performed using free weights, resistance bands, weight-lifting equipment, and cardio-exercise machines, such as treadmills and stationary bicycles. Muscles of the hip and core may be targeted.

A physical therapist may also use manual therapy and teach exercises as well as work-retraining activities. Athletes may be taught sport-specific techniques and drills to help them return to their particular sports. A home-exercise program will also be recommended to strengthen and stretch the muscles around the hip, upper leg and core (abdomen) to help prevent future injury. These may include strength and flexibility exercises for the hip, thigh and core muscles. If in doubt, please seek professional advice.

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