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External Snapping Hip Syndrome

External snapping hip syndrome is characterised by a palpable or audible snapping sensation when the hip joint is flexed and extended, or rotated. Around 5-10% of the population have snapping hip, with the majority it being painless. This condition tends to affect those who are competitive or recreational ballet dancers, weight lifters, football players, and runners. Interestingly, 90% of a cohort of ballet dancers reported snapping hip syndrome, and 80% had bilateral involvement.

Snapping hip can be described as being external or internal.

  • External snapping hip is commonly attributed to the iliotibial band moving over the greater trochanter. Other causes include the hamstrings rolling over the ischial tuberosity, the fascia lata or gluteus maximus rolling over the greater trochanter, and the psoas tendon rolling over the iliacus muscle.

  • Internal snapping hip most commonly occurs as the iliopsoas tendon snaps over the iliopectineal eminence of the femoral head.

Approximately 50% of internal snapping hip cases have additional intra-articular hip pathologies such as loose bodies or labral tears.

Treatment is usually conservative, with a focus on rest, stretching, physical therapy, and activity modifications. Corticosteroid injections may also be offered to reduce pain, and surgery considered should conservative methods fail.

Musick, S.R. and Varacallo, M. (2022). Snapping Hip Syndrome. National Library of Medicine. Statpearls Publishing.


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