Snapping Hip Syndrome (Dancer’s Hip)-By Michael Hansen, PT, DPT
by ksumner, July 31, 2020
Snapping Hip Syndrome (Dancer’s Hip)
Have you ever gotten up from the couch or straightened your leg in bed and felt or heard an audible pop in your hip? Hip pain is one of the most commonly reported musculoskeletal injuries just behind low back, neck, knee and shoulder pain.1 Up to 30% of active adults report chronic hip pain.3 Like many other joint pains there are several causes of pain in the hip, all of which have specific causes. Pain in the hip can be the result of osteoarthritis, trochanteric bursitis/pain syndrome, labral pathology and many more. One less commonly diagnosed injury is known as Snapping Hip Syndrome or Dancer’s Hip.
Snapping hip syndrome affects between 5% and 10% of the population and luckily most of the time is reported to be painfree snapping.2,4 It can be defined as an overuse syndrome resulting from repetitive movements of the hip and lower extremities. It has the nickname “Dancer’s Hip” because the prevalence among competitive ballet dancers is estimated to be anywhere from 80% to 90%.2 This is due to the extreme hip movements required including repetitive excessive external rotation and hip abduction. Other groups affected include any athlete whose sport requires repetitive movements of the hip including runners, cyclists and weight lifters.2,4
Snapping hip can be subdivided into two categories: internal and external snapping. They are described based on the location of snapping and the tissue that is involved:
- Internal Snapping Hip: commonly involves the iliopsoas tendon snapping or rubbing over bony aspects of the pelvis or femur. The pain is usually reported to be deep in the groin. It can be reproduced when the hip is moving from full flexion into extension. It is usually resulting from tightness in the iliopsoas muscle attributed to: overuse, prolonged positioning in hip flexion (sitting) or even tightness in the low back.
- External Snapping Hip: commonly involves the iliotibial band (IT band) snapping over the greater trochanter of the lateral hip. The iliotibial band is made of dense connective tissue and when the surround muscles that attach to it become tight the IT band can compress the lateral hip resulting in pain and snapping.
Identifying the presence of snapping hip can be done by your local physical therapy through the use of special testing designed to identify flexibility limitations in the associated muscles. Physical therapy treatment generally consists of activity modification to reduce the occurrence of snapping, instruction in proper stretching techniques, use of ice/heat for symptom relief and strengthening surrounding musculature.
Some Common stretches to address Internal Snapping Hip include:
- Hip flexor stretch in 1/2 kneel position
- Hip Flexor stretch with foot on chair
Common stretches for External Snapping Hip include:
- IT band cross over stretch
2. IT band stretch with strap
If you have experienced this pain or symptoms and would like an evaluation from a licensed physical therapist, please contact our clinic at (530) 226-9242.
- Andersson, G. (2011). The burden of musculoskeletal diseases in the United States: prevalence, societal and economic cost. Rosemont, IL: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
- Musick, S. R. (2020, January 29). Snapping Hip Syndrome. Retrieved May 5, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK448200/
- Paolani, J. (n.d.). Approach to the adult with unspecified hip pain. Retrieved May 5, 2020, from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/approach-to-the-adult-with-unspecified-hip-pain
- Via, A. G., Fioruzzi, A., & Randelli, F. (2017). Diagnosis and Management of Snapping Hip Syndrome: A Comprehensive Review of Literature. Rheumatology: Current Research, 07(04). doi: 10.4172/2161-1149.1000228