When it comes to leg joint problems, the knees get all the attention. But your hips can develop problems, too, including a condition called snapping hip syndrome.
As many as 10% of people suffer from snapping hip syndrome, including many athletes whose sports involve a lot of hip movement. The nickname for snapping hip syndrome is “dancer’s hip” because the condition frequently affects ballet dancers.
Usually, an overuse injury, snapping hip causes snapping sounds or sensations when you swing your legs, stand up from a sitting position, or simply walk or run. Sometimes the sound happens on its own, but often, it’s accompanied by pain. Even if you don’t have pain, delaying treatment can lead to more serious and painful joint injuries later on.
At his practice in Houston, Texas, Joshua D. Harris, MD, specializes in injuries affecting the joints and surrounding structures, including snapping hip syndrome and its symptoms. If you have snapping hip syndrome, here’s how he can help.
How snapping hip syndrome happens
Snapping hip mostly happens from repetitive use of your hips, resulting in excess tightness in the muscles and tendons that support the joint and help it move. In addition to professional athletes, young athletes can also be affected when growth spurts affect muscle and tendon function.
The snapping noise and sensation happen when the tendons and muscles surrounding the hip move over a bony part of the joint, releasing tension and creating a snapping effect. You can feel snapping in the front, back, or side of your hip, depending on which muscles or tendons are involved.
Less commonly, tiny fragments of bone or loose cartilage can cause a snapping sensation, usually accompanied by discomfort. Some people can develop snapping hip syndrome after a traumatic injury, like a car accident or fall.
Treating snapping hip
The good news about snapping hip syndrome is that it can almost always be successfully managed with conservative treatments, like the options listed here.
Many people benefit from a little TLC, which includes things like:
- Taking over-the-counter medicines to reduce pain and inflammation
- Applying an ice pack to the hip area
- Resting the hip when you can
- Modifying activities to avoid hip strain
Home care can be used on its own, but frequently, it’s combined with one of the following two options on the list.
Physical therapy uses targeted exercises and stretches to relieve inflammation and improve the muscle function around the hip joint, providing the joint with the support it needs for optimal function. Some exercises focus specifically on the tendons involved in snapping hip syndrome. Your therapy will be customized to your specific symptoms and activities.
Corticosteroid injections are often prescribed to reduce inflammation, especially if the bursae are involved. A bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac found near many joints, facilitating normal joint function. Sometimes, one or more of these sacs becomes inflamed — a condition called bursitis. Corticosteroid injections can be especially effective in reducing inflammation in these sacs and the area surrounding the joint.
Most women and men respond well to a customized plan of conservative care. Typically, Dr. Harris only recommends surgery when conservative options don’t provide relief or when other, more serious hip damage is present.
Give your hips the love they deserve
Because so many activities depend on strong hips, any hip symptom needs medical attention — including mild symptoms and symptoms that don’t involve pain. To learn how we can help keep your hips in top shape, call 713-441-8393 or book an appointment online with Dr. Joshua Harris today.