Snapping Hip Syndrome (sometimes known as External Coxa Saltans) is a condition most commonly characterized by a “snapping” or “popping” feeling on the outer part of the hip when you are walking or running. It is caused by the “thickening” of tendons in the hip, which makes it easier for those tendons to grab hold of other structures in the hip. It is estimated that Snapping Hip Syndrome (SHS) affects up to 5% of the population, typically those who are between the ages of 15 to 40 years. (1) In previous research, the rate of some type of snapping hip syndrome was 43.8% in female ballet dancers with hip complaints, and approximately 30% noted pain with their condition. (2) SHS not only occurs in dancers but also "ballet dancers, gymnasts, horse riders, track and field athletes and soccer players, military training, or any vigorous exerciser" (3). Even though it is possible to have Snapping Hip Syndrome but not experience any pain or inflammation, for most, the condition causes excruciating and debilitating pain. There are three distinct types of SHS:
- Internal: the iliopsoas tendon is snapping over the brim of the pelvic bone.
- External: occurs when the IT band (the large group of fibers that run down the outside of the hip) snaps over the Trochanter, or the bony, top part of the femur. This is the most common form of SHS and can lead to bursitis, adhesions and inflammation in the gluteus maximus.
- Intra-articular: occurs when the cartilage is torn or damaged in the hip joint, and causes it to lock up.
Those most at risk for developing Snapping Hip Syndrome include:
- Flat feet
- Poor strength and flexibility
- Improper alignment of the knees, such as bowlegs or knock knees
- Playing contact sports
- Endurance sports such as distance running, triathlon, etc.
- Compensating due to other injuries but failing to maintain proper alignment
- Performing activities that require bending, lifting, or climbing
- Not warming up properly before an activity
- Wearing improperly fitting protective equipment
Treatment for SHS can be fairly simple and can often be performed at home. If you are diagnosed as having Snapping Hip Syndrome by your doctor (which can be a difficult thing to do), the pain can easily be managed without expensive physical rehabilitation or surgery. The following information contains a list of treatment options that are safe, easy-to-do, and can be performed at your home or gym.