Hip pain is incredibly common and can have a wide variety of causes. The precise location of your hip pain can often provide valuable clues about the underlying cause. Problems within the hip joint itself tend to result in pain on the inside of your hip or your groin. Hip pain on the outside of your hip, upper thigh or outer buttock is caused usually by problems with muscles, ligaments, tendons and other soft tissues that surround your hip joint.
Hip pain can sometimes be caused by diseases and conditions in other areas of your body, such as your lower back. This type of pain is called referred pain. Osteoarthritis in your hip can also cause pain and tightness as you bear weight on that side.
Snapping hip syndrome, also known as coxa saltans or dancers’ hip, can produce popping, clicking or snapping sounds in your hips as you go through specific movements. Some people may hear an audible click when they bend at the hips. For others, hip snapping can be seen as their hip muscles visibly shudder with certain movements. Others may feel a popping or catch in their hip joint.
3 Types of Snapping Hip Syndrome
Internal snapping hip is the most common and occurs when a tendon slides over protruding bony structures at the front of the hip joint. This creates tension that releases with a “snap.” Internal snapping hip is often associated with painful inflammation of the bursa located at the front of the hip joint. This inflammation is called iliopsoas bursitis. This popping is accompanied by a sharp, sudden pain at the front of the hip, deep within the groin.
Internal hip snapping is caused typically when:
- The iliopsoas tendon, which connects two inner hip muscles to the femur ― thigh bone ― moves over a protrusion of the pelvic bone called the iliopectineal eminence.
- The rectus femoris, commonly called the quadriceps muscle, moves over the rounded femoral head, commonly known as the “ball” of the hip’s ball-and-socket joint.
External Snapping Hip
External snapping hip occurs when a muscle or tendon slides over the knobby bone at the top of the femur, called the greater trochanter. This sliding creates tension, followed by a release and snapping sensation at the outside of the hip.
External snapping hip is caused when:
- The iliotibial band, or IT band, slides over a rounded protrusion of the femur, called the greater trochanter. The IT band is a wide strip of fibrous tissue that extends down the outside of the upper leg, from the pelvis to below the knee.
- The gluteus maximus muscle slides over the greater trochanter.
- External snapping may be a sign that the IT band or gluteus maximus is tight.
External snapping hip syndrome is often associated with painful tenderness at the outside of the hip, which suggests that you may have a type of hip bursitis called trochanteric bursitis.
If this is the cause of your pain and snapping, you should consider stretching your IT bands and gluteus maximus muscles.
This syndrome is also associated with a tight IT band, sometimes called IT band syndrome.
Snapping Hip Due to Cartilage Injury
This type of snapping hip can be caused by the following:
- An acetabular labral tear is an injury to the tough, flexible cartilage that rings the hip socket like a gasket. A tear can cause a snapping sensation as well as pain in the groin area. One study found acetabular tears accounted for 80 percent of intra-articular snapping hip.
- An injury to the articular cartilage, which covers bones’ surfaces where they articulate, or meet up, with one another. This cartilage reduces friction between the bones at the joint and can be damaged suddenly from a traumatic injury or over time from arthritis.
- Loose bodies of material in the hip that interrupt the joint’s normal biomechanics and cause catching or snapping sensation. For example, following a trauma, a fragment of soft tissue or bone can break away and get trapped between the hip’s ball and socket.
Home Remedies to Try to Alleviate Snapping Hip Syndrome
People with snapping hip syndrome should try to avoid the motions that cause the snapping, popping or clicking sensation. Resting limits joint irritation and allows the affected tendon, muscle or bursa to heal. If walking aggravates the inner snapping hip, the patient may be advised to walk with the affected leg rotated out slightly to minimize hip snapping.
People with external hip snapping may benefit from stretching the IT bands. People with inner hip snapping may benefit from stretching the hip flexors.
Just as stretching can help loosen tendons and muscles, a deep tissue massage or trigger-point massage can help reduce muscle tension and reduce snapping hip symptoms.
The type of snapping hip syndrome determines the treatment you may need. Your doctor is the only one who can diagnose this malady. Certain tests and procedures, such as imaging scans, can verify the true nature of your hip snapping syndrome. It is best to have your doctor provide an accurate diagnosis for proper treatment.
In the meantime, we recommend these strengthening exercises.
Strengthening the gluteus medius muscle can work wonders for hip pain. Make sure you check out the Best Gluteus Medius Exercises, here!