Snapping hip injury

Snapping hip injury, sometimes called dancer’s hip, is a condition in which the person feels a snapping sensation around the hip region when the hip is flexed or extended. The snapping is caused by the movement of a tendon over a bony structure. Snapping hip is categorised by the location of the injury. It may be to the side (lateral aspect) in which case the snapping or clicking sound is on the outside of the hip, or in the groin (internal aspect) with the snapping sound at the front. The most common site is on the lateral aspect of the hip.

This condition is common in dancers, soccer players, track and field athletes and gymnasts, who use repetitive hip flexion movements. There may be an audible snapping or popping sound followed by pain which decreases when the activity stops. Symptoms can last for months or years without treatment.

Snapping hip injury is sometimes painless and can be left alone. Where there is a pain, the athlete should apply the RICE formula (rest, apply ice and compression and elevate the affected area). Rest from running or jumping is important, especially running uphill. Leg lifts and flutter kicks should be avoided. Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to relieve pain. Surgery may be required in extreme cases but this is very rare.

When the snapping causes pain, physiotherapy is required and it will focus on passive stretching of the hip and groin muscles as well as strengthening exercises to improve muscle balance around the hip region. Soft tissue massage techniques including deep frictions and acupressure may help relax the tight muscles and decrease the pain and snapping sensation. We will also educate you on proper technique and activity modification while the injury is given time to heal before a graduated return to normal sport.