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Snapping Hip Syndrome : Types, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

16 October, 2020 Prashasti Jauhari

Snapping Hip Syndrome (SHS) is professionally known as coxa saltans. It is a hip disorder.

A feeling of snapping or a snapping sound might be heard by the person who has the Snapping Hip Syndrome when he or she moves their hip joint.

Often due to overuse, the muscle tendons become inflamed, when they get inflamed, they can click as they rub over the hip socket bone.

SHS can occur in anyone irrespective of age or gender but women are more likely to get it.

Types of Snapping Hip Syndrome 

There are three main types of SHS

  • Internal – When your tendons slide over the bone structures at the front of your hip joint, it is internal SHS.
  • External – When your tendons or muscles slide over bone structures at the top of your thigh bones, it is external SHS.
  • Intra-articular – When an actual hip issue or injury causes snapping, it is intra-articular SHS. It is not caused by muscle or tendons.

Most cases of SHS are not serious but can some can increase the risk of joint damage. The serious cases of this condition can cause severe pain, especially in dancers and athletes, and affect their overall performance.

Causes of Snapping Hip Syndrome

SHS is mainly caused when your hip muscle or tendon slide over your bones. As these muscles stretch, it creates tension and results in a snapping sound or sensation when released.

The underlying causes of SHS are dependent on the type of SHS.

Internal SHS

This type of SHS is caused when iliopsoas tendon slides over the pelvic bone. iliopsoas tendon is the tendons connecting your inner hip muscle to your thigh bone.

This type of SHS can also occur if the quadriceps muscle slides over the ball of your hip’s ball and socket joint.

Internal SHS is common but less than external SHS. The symptoms of internal SHS often worsen over time and can cause pain near the groin.

External SHS

This type of SHS occurs when the iliotibial band slides over your femur bone. External SHS is the most common one.

People with external SHS may experience a snapping sound when they climb stairs, walk, or run. They also experience pain on the outside of the hip that has been affected. It might hurt to lie down on this side of the hip and the pain can worsen over time.

Intra-articular SHS

This type of SHS occurs due to an injury to the hip. It can occur suddenly due to trauma or injury. Some causes of this type of SHS are –

  • Injury to the cartilage that rings your hip joint or acetabular labral tear.
  • Injury to the cartilage that lines the ball or socket of the hip joint or articular cartilage injury.
  • Fragments of broken bones of loose tissue can become trapped between your hip’s ball and socket joint.

Symptoms of Snapping Hip Syndrome

SHS can cause a snapping or clicking sound which can be audible when you flex your hips.

Some other symptoms of SHS can include –

  • Pain
  • A feeling that your hip getting out of place
  • Inflammation
  • Swelling
  • Weakness in leg muscles
  • Difficulty in performing daily routine activities like walking.

Treatment for Snapping Hip Syndrome

SHS does not always require medical intervention. If you have pain, the doctor might suggest a cold compression or maybe some over-the-counter pain relief medications. Some OTC medications for pain are acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (AdvilMotrin), and naproxen (Aleve).

The doctor might also suggest complete bed rest or restrict physical activities to give time to your muscles and tendons to heal. You can buy medicine online in India from an online medicine store in India.

In rather serious cases, you might need physical therapy to increase the range of motion. You might also need steroid injections to relieve pain. Some symptoms of SHS can also be relieved with exercises. It strengthens your surrounding motions.

Some of the exercises that you can perform that can help treat SHS are –

  • Hip flexor stretch
  • Iliotibial band stretch
  • Bridges
  • Lying-down hamstring stretch
  • Calm Shell

Although rare, sometimes SHS might require surgery to relieve some symptoms. The type of surgery depends on the underlying cause that resulted in SHS.

Some common surgeries of SHS are –

  • Iliotibial band release
  • Iliopsoas tendon release
  • Arthroscopic hip debridement


Snapping Hip Syndrome can happen to anyone. It occurs when a muscle or tendon slides over a bone. The person with SHS may or may not experience pain in the beginning. The discomfort increases with time and may worsen your condition. So, it is best to recommend a doctor if you experience any of the symptoms of SHS.