Snapping Hip

Snapping hip syndrome (SHS) is a hip condition in which you feel a snapping sensation or hear a snapping sound in when you move your hip joint, such as when you walk, get up from a chair, or swing your leg around.

The snapping sensation occurs when a muscle or tendon (the strong tissue that connects muscle to bone) moves over a bony protrusion in your hip. There are 3 main types of SHS:

Internal SHS

Your tendons slide over bone structures at the front of your hip joint. This is the most common type of SHS.

External SHS

Your tendon or muscle slides over the bone at the top of your thigh bone, or femur.

Intra-articular SHS

There is the presence of an actual hip joint issue or injury.


Apart from hearing a snapping sound, symptoms of a snapping hip include:

  • Pain and inflammation
  • Leg muscle weakness when you try to lift your leg or move it sideways
  • Tightness in the hip
  • Swelling around the hip
  • Difficulty with daily activities like walking or standing up from a chair


A snapping hip is often caused by tightening of the muscles and tendons around the hip. Risk factors of a snapping hip include:

  • Sports and activities that involve repeated bending at the hip, such as dancing and gymnastics
  • Differences in leg length
  • Loose ligaments
  • Weakness in the muscles surrounding the hip
  • Previous injury to the hip


A history of the injury and a physical examination of the hip will be conducted by the Doctor. The doctor will find out what activities led to the snapping of your hip, and if you have had previous injury to the hip area.

Imaging tests such as an x-ray will be taken, as well as MRI scan to rule out other possible hip conditions.


Patients who suffer from a snapping hip can often heal and recover from nonsurgical treatments. These include:

  • Applying ice or cold compress on the affected area to reduce pain and swelling
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen
  • Resting and reducing activity levels to allow for the hip to heal
  • Physiotherapy exercises to regain muscle strength and restore range of motion


Should nonsurgical treatments fail to alleviate your symptoms, surgery may be recommended, although rare. Surgical treatment methods include:

  • Iliotibial band release

Your iliotibial band gets lengthened to reduce tension and hip snapping. Recommended for people experiencing pain from external SHS.

  • Iliopsoas tendon release

Your iliopsoas tendon gets lengthened to reduces muscle tension and may decrease hip clicking. Recommended for people with internal SHS.

  • Arthroscopic hip debridement

A small incision is made at the hip joint cavity to remove debris. Recommended for people with intra-articular SHS.



Should a snapping hip be left untreated, this may result in complications. Complications include:

  • Persistent hip pain

An untreated snapping hip can grow and this may evolve into intense discomfort.

  • Painful bursa or hip bursitis

Iliotibial band syndrome is a common cause of snapping hip, and this can lead to an irritated bursa or potential hip bursitis.

  • Iliopsoas tendon snap

Although an iliopsoas tendon snap may not cause physical pain or decrease mobility, this snapping sensation can disrupt your daily routines and activities.