Snapping Hip Syndrome

Snap, Click & Pop! 

It is common for dancers to hear a snap, click or pop in the hip joint whilst performing certain movements. This is called snapping hip syndrome. The sensation you get is most commonly caused by the tendon or muscle sliding over the bone. The tendon or muscle slides over the bone, stretches as it is pulled over the bony area and then snaps loose and releases tension. 

For a small percentage of the people with this issue, they experience no other symptoms such as pain and carry on without receiving any treatment. However, as a dancer, snapping hip syndrome can be very annoying and frustrating and can even be painful at times. Therefore, many of these dancers end up receiving treatment to try to resolve the issue. 

If I am in pain, what does this mean?

Dancers and people in general, feel pain if: 

The snapping muscle or tendon becomes inflamed. As I explained above, when you experience this snapping sensation, the muscle or tendon is stretched and strained over a bony area. When this is done repeatedly over time, this can lead to tendon irritation, damage and pain. 

The snapping tendon or muscle irritates a nearby bursa. A bursa is a lubricating, fluid filled structure that normally reduces friction between the bone and the tissue. This repeated irritation can cause a bursa to become inflamed resulting in hip bursitis. 

Why is this common for dancers?

Snapping hip syndrome can affect anyone. But for dancers these are some of the common causes:

Dancers have to perform movements that require extreme ranges of motion such as hip flexion compared to other athletes. Other sports would include some martial arts such as karate. 

Young dancers who are experiencing growth spurts can stress muscles and tendons more. 

If you have had a drastic increase in the amount of activity you are taking part in, within a short period of time, this can affect you. 

If you have had certain hip & knee surgeries. 

And one that is always missed that can play a big factor is foot placement. Example: Foot Pronation 

I have seen cases where the dancer or person can snap their hip at will. It is possible to perform certain movements that will make a hip snap. Knowing the type of snapping hip syndrome you have will help with the treatment process. So here are the 3 types: 

Internal snapping hip: Snapping at the groin area. 

External snapping hip: Snapping at the outside of the hip. 

Snapping caused by a cartilage injury (intraarticular snapping hip): This usually involves a reduction in your range of motion. 

People who snap, click or pop their hips when performing certain movements have a snapping hip syndrome also known as a dancer’s hip. Others may experience visible hip snapping and their hip muscles can be seen shaking or vibrating with certain movements.

Non-Surgical Treatments for snapping hip syndrome

These treatments are recommended to alleviate pain caused by snapping hip syndrome:

Lets start with my least favourite word ‘Rest’: For a lot of injuries the word ‘Rest’ is used too much and in my opinion it is an easy answer to give to a client. But unfortunately, for a person with snapping hip syndrome sometimes rest is needed. Resting will limit joint irritation and will allow the affected areas such as the tendons, muscles and bursa to heal. If you are walking and it still affects you then please see a therapist and they will recommend something different for you. Example: You may need to walk with the affected leg rotated slightly to minimize snapping.

Physical Therapy: Someone like myself, would be able to use specific techniques to stretch and loosen muscles and reduce tension which can help to reduce snapping hip symptoms. I will also be able to increase the persons physical awareness and design a plan which will improve the clients posture and modify form which can change hip biomechanics and improve symptoms.

Other treatments can include ultrasound and Iontophoresis which is a mild electrical current to administer an anti-inflammatory medicine through healthy skin and into the area of pain. This is usually an option recommended by your doctor or other health professional if a client does not tolerate injections

Diagnosing Snapping Hip Syndrome

I would always advise that an accurate diagnosis is made before treatment begins. Hip problems can be difficult at times to diagnose because it is a complex joint located deep within the body. If an obvious diagnosis cannot be made after a physical examination, then an X-ray or an MRI , may be recommended.

Thank you for reading. I hope this helps. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need any help or advice.

Written by

Peter O’Grady

Author & Irish Dance Coach

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