Snapping hip syndrome, or “dancer’s hip” is a condition commonly affecting athletes and dancers. It involves a snapping sensation, often accompanied by a popping sound during movement. The snapping sensation occurs as a muscle or tendon in the area moves over a bony structure. While the syndrome, for many, is only an annoyance, for individuals with a very active lifestyle or occupation it may lead to pain, weakness and disability.
Most commonly, the problem occurs in a band of connective tissue that passes over large jutting bone of the thigh, the trochanter. This band is known as the iliotibial band. Two other bands can cause snapping hip syndrome: the iliopsoas, which connects to the inner upper thigh and the rectus femoris, which stretches from the inner thigh through the pelvis. Less frequently, snapping hip syndrome can be the result of torn cartilage or bone in the hip joint, known as a labral tear. Which injury is causing the problem is determined through physical examination and X-rays.
When snapping hip syndrome does not involve pain, no treatment is required. For patients who experience mild pain, home remedies, such as over-the-counter pain medications and applications of ice to the affected area, may suffice. It may also be necessary to modify activity level. If pain is severe or persistent, medical consultation is needed.
Treatment of snapping hip syndrome may include physical rehabilitation and/or corticosteroid injections. Physical therapy most often consists of exercises to strengthen and stretch muscles, especially the quadriceps, and to align the hip joint. Corticosteroid injections serve to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. In rare cases, when snapping hip syndrome does not respond to other treatments, surgical repair may be necessary.