Snapping Hip Syndrome
Snapping Hip Syndrome is also known as
Dancer's Hip, Coxa Saltans, & Iliopsoas Tendinitis
Snapping hip syndrome is identified as a snapping or clicking sensation (and possible sound) in the hip joint that may or may not cause pain. The hip may also feel unstable and may give a sensation like your hip will give out. In most cases, the condition is more of an annoyance than anything serious but repeated snapping or popping may induce worsening pain, irritation and damage in the iliopsoas tendon. There is greater risk of an occurrence of bursitis due to snapping hip syndrome.
Snapping hip syndrome occurs when a tendon running along the front or side of the hip flexor pops or snaps over a bone. This occurs when the leg moves from flexion to extension with the iliopsoas, or hip flexor, muscle. Snapping hip syndrome can be divided into different types: external, internal or intra-articular, which depend on where the snap is occurring.
External Snapping Hip
This occurrence of snapping hip syndrome and is often referred to as an external clicking hip. It happens when either: (1) the Iliotibial band (IT band) slides over the greater trochanter at the top of the femur, or (2) when the gluteus maximus muscle slides over the greater trochanter. During hip flexion, when the leg moves forward, the gluteus maximus contracts and the tendon or muscle is pulled over the greater trochanter along with the iliotibial tract (IT band). When the gluteus medius tendon or IT band thickens or frays, it is more likely to catch on the bone.
Due to tightness over the trochanteric bursa and irritation in the area, trochanteric bursitis may also develop with this type of snapping hip syndrome. With trochanteric bursitis, pain and tenderness will manifest itself on the outside of the hip. If a person is suffering from external snapping hip, it may also be a sign that the IT band or gluteus maximus muscle is tight - a condition known as IT band syndrome.
Internal Snapping Hip
This type of snapping hip is considered to be the most common type of snapping hip. It occurs when either (1)the iliopsoas tendon snaps over the iliopectineal eminence (a protrusion of the pelvic bone), or (2) the rectus femoris (one of the main quadriceps muscles) snaps over the femoral head of the hips ball and socket joint.
There is typically a gradual onset of internal snapping hip over a few months before the clicking may become noticeable. Internal snapping hip syndrome may cause or be triggered by iliopsoas bursitis which is a painful bursitis located at the front of the hip joint.
Intra-articular Snapping Hip
Loose bodies in the hip joint or other tissue catching (such as tissue from a labral tear) can cause intra-articular snapping hip syndrome. This type of syndrome is basically a snapping hip problem due to a cartilage injury.
A snapping hip may be caused by:
- An acetabular labral tear
- Injuries to articular cartilage
- loose bodies of tissue or material in the hip
The labrum is a unique piece of cartilage that lines the inside of the hip socket. If it becomes damaged or torn, as is the case when an acetabular labral tear occurs, then it can cause a snap or pop in the hip joint itself as it moves. A study* published in 2005 indicates that approximately 80% of Intra-Articular Snapping Hip cases were caused by acetabular labral tear.
*Reference: Yamamoto, Yasuhiro & Hamada, Yoshiki & Ide, Takatoshi & Usui, Ikuo. (2005). Arthroscopic Surgery to Treat Intra-articular Type Snapping Hip. Arthroscopy : the journal of arthroscopic & related surgery : official publication of the Arthroscopy Association of North America and the International Arthroscopy Association. 21. 1120-5. 10.1016/j.arthro.2005.05.021.
Risks or Causes of Snapping Hip Syndrome
- Being between 15 and 40 years of age.
- Taking part in sports or activities involving repetitive hip flexion such as running, cheerleading, gymnastics, ballet, or soccer.
- Having tight IT bands, torn labrum or leg length discrepancy.
Treating Your Snapping Hip Syndrome
The treatment for snapping hip syndrome should focus on resting your hip and reducing inflammation to relieve pain.
Physical therapy can assist you in stretching the gluteus maximus tendon and IT band if they are tight. If the gluteus maximus tendon or iliotibial tract have thickened, frayed and/or become inflamed you can treat the injury to heal your tissue and repair the cause of your snapping hip syndrome.Once swelling is reduced with application of a Cold Compress or Ice Pack, treating the gluteus maximus tendon and IT band injury with a Back/Hip T•Shellz Wrap will speed healing due to increased blood circulation. This should help alleviate the symptoms of snapping hip syndrome quite quickly as soft tissue in the irritated muscles and tendons begin to heal. In most cases, utilizing home conservative treatments such as a Cold Compress or Ice Pack and the T•Shellz Wrap, combined with rest will heal or -at minimum- reduce the severity of snapping hip syndrome in a big way.
In severe cases of snapping hip syndrome, surgery may be required to trim the catching piece of labrum, remove a loose piece in the joint, or lengthen the tendon that is too tight.
If You Are Having Snapping Hip Surgery
Conservative treatment therapies such as cold therapy and the use of the Back/Hip T•Shellz Wrap will help keep hip joint tissue and surrounding muscles as healthy as possible preceding surgery. This is beneficial for 2 reasons. First, with less inflammation and healthier tissue in the joint, your surgery will be less invasive and will require less time to heal. More importantly, it will minimize your risk of suffering future hip conditions such as osteoarthritis, chronic hip pain, and trochanteric bursitis (which is a common condition immediately following surgery due to irritation during the procedure). Following your surgery, continued use of these therapies will result in a faster recovery and more complete healing. There isn't a better way to treat your hip at home before and after arthroscopic surgery.
Cold Compress or Ice Pack Cold Compression Therapy
To decrease inflammation and relieve the pain of snapping hip syndrome doctors recommend the application of cold and compression. Cold therapy within the first 72 hours of injury to the tendon or labrum or following surgery is an effective way to relieve pain and swelling. Cold therapy will also limit the amount of damage done to your tissue and can reduce, or even eliminate, the need for NSAIDs that can be harmful to your body.
Cold compression therapy works by interrupting and slowing nerve and cell function in soft tissue in the hip joint. It also reduces swelling that can block blood vessels. This is important because once blood vessels are blocked or damaged, they can no longer carry oxygen and nutrients to the tissue in your hip joint and the cells begin to break-down. Without cold compression therapy, cellular break-down and tissue damage continues as the cells do not get the oxygen they need to survive.
By limiting the amount of damage done to your tissue, you limit the amount of healing that needs to occur. This is a very important step to heal your hip faster and with less pain!
T•Shellz Wrap: Deep Tissue Therapy for Snapping Hip
After severe inflammation and swelling is reduced, it is time to take the next step in your soft tissue treatment. Use a Back/Hip T•Shellz Wrap to improve blood flow while simultaneously helping surrounding soft tissue to become elongated and more elastic. What this means is that not only is increased blood flow helping speed the repair of soft tissue tears, the tendons/muscles/ligaments are now longer and more elastic due to the deep heat side effect from the application of Electromagnetic Energy. Elongated tissue means snapping will reduce in most cases (ie. snapping hip due to tight IT band, etc). The T•Shellz Wrap is the perfect soft tissue home treatment - helping to increase flexibility while simultaneously boosting the body's own soft tissue healing process via stimulated blood flow.
In addition, the improved blood flow obtained by using the TShellz Wrap helps reduce the risk of atrophy in your muscles. When you stop moving your leg and hip due to pain, your muscles and other tissue become weaker, and dead cells and toxins in the area build up due to lack of circulation. This can cause further tissue deterioration and lead to atrophy in your quadriceps, hamstrings and other leg muscles. By clearing the area of toxins and increasing the amount of oxygen and nutrients to your labrum and other tissue, the risk of atrophy(muscle weakness and/or deterioration) is greatly reduced.
Keeping your upper leg and hip joint tissue as healthy and limber as possible throughout the healing process will allow you to improve hip strength again once your pain has gone and your labral tear has healed. Dedicated use of a T•Shellz Wrap will help you achieve this.
Would you like to discuss your Snapping Hip or other conditions with a MendMyHip Advisor?
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Rehabilitation Exercise for Soft Tissue Injuries
Physical therapy is a beneficial way to restore atrophied muscles and improve strength and mobility after significant periods of reduced mobility (usually due to a soft tissue tear or injury). The type of physical therapy and the duration will be dependent on the tissue damage and your symptoms. When you are treating or recovering from atrophy or tears or strains in muscles, tendons or ligaments, it is important to adhere to the instructions of the physical therapist to ensure you are doing exercises properly and not under-doing it or overdoing it, as this will increase your risk of soft tissue re-injury.
Once pain starts to diminish, a physiotherapist will usually set up an individualized strengthening and stretching exercise program for you to perform at home or in the gym. This will be based on your needs and abilities, and will help you return
to performing your normal routines.
Individuals will often lift weights on their own, to try and build up their strength. However, in doing so, they can do more damage to their joint. It is extremely important to strengthen your muscles properly, as they may have weakened during the period of non-use. A trained therapist will help to ensure your rehabilitation process is appropriate and effective. For best, long term results use T•Shellz Wraps at home, in conjunction with physical therapy and an exercise program.
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Learn More About Hip Joint Injuries & Treatments
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