Snapping Hip Syndrome

Author: pivotalphysio

If you have ever experienced a popping sensation in your hip when exercising, dancing, getting dressed or trying to get out of your vehicle, you are not alone.

Oftentimes this clicking is painless and it simply inconveniences you during mountain climbers or your abdominal exercises. Other times, you might notice a short-lived pinching sensation in the groin accompanying the click when you jump out of the bed quickly or when you get out of the vehicle in a rush. And then there are times when a painful click starts to prevent you from running or keeping up with a dance routine.

Medical health care professionals commonly refer to the above mentioned symptoms with an umbrella term called Snapping Hip Syndrome (SHS). And while someone suffering from pain is more likely to seek treatment, what do you do if clicking is all that is bothering you? Let’s delve into this topic by exploring the three different types of the SHS.

Types of Snapping Hip Syndrome

External Snapping Hip Syndrome

The most common form of this disorder is called External SHS.

  1. The key player here is a tight iliotibial (IT) band – a thick band of fascia running along the outside of your thigh, from the hip to just below the knee.
  2. External type of snapping is attributed to the shortened IT band rolling over the bony structure in your upper thigh, called greater trochanter, during movements of the hip.
  3. This form of snapping is common amongst people who are new to the exercise world and long distance runners.
  4. This condition might begin as a harmless popping sensation that can be addressed on your own with a bit of research. Left untreated, however, the imbalances can lead to muscular weakness, pain inhibition, and reduced hip joint mobility.

Internal Snapping Hip Syndrome

The second most common form of snapping is called Internal SHS.

  1. It is caused by shortening of the hip flexor muscles.
  2. While it can be associated with prolonged sitting, it is far more common amongst the dancer population due to repetitive flexion and extension movements of the hip. In this case, the snapping sensation is caused by movement of the iliopsoas tendon over part of the pelvic bone called iliopectineal eminence. 
  3. Just like the External Snapping Hip syndrome, the Internal Snapping Hip Syndrome can begin with a harmless popping sensation. Again, this can be addressed on your own with a bit of research. Left untreated, however, the imbalances can lead to muscular weakness, pain inhibition, and reduced hip joint mobility.

Trauma to the hip

The third form of SHS encompasses intra-articular pathologies of the hip, such as labral tears and free-floating loose cartilage fragments within the joint.

  1. It is often associated with history of trauma or an injury (ie. fall from height, a car accident, or a hip dislocation during contact sports).
  2. Patients presenting with this form of snapping typically require longer treatment plans and, on occasion, a surgical consult.

Treatment Options

  1. Physiotherapy Treatment. There is a growing number of studies supporting the effectiveness of physiotherapy in treatment of groin pain and SHS by utilizing a combination of hip and core strengthening, hip stretching, activity modification, and pelvic mobilization.
  2. Work with a personal trainer, athletic therapist or a physical therapist to help you with developing a balanced stretching and strengthening routine to help prevent and mitigate Snapping Hip Syndrome.

Whether you are at the beginning of your fitness journey or an avid athlete, it is good to be in the habit of monitoring your body for any unanticipated changes as you adopt a new exercise regimen. It is a lot easier to correct any emerging imbalances or postural faults before they get significant enough to derail your daily routine.  

To book an appointment to help with your Snapping Hip Syndrome, please contact any of our locations. We’re happy to help!

Andriana Klymkiv
Physiotherapist at Pivotal Physiotherapy

Ask me a question
Book an appointment with Andriana


1.Nolton EC, Ambegaonkar JP. Recognizing and Managing Snapping Hip Syndrome in Dancers. Med Probl Perform Art. 2018 Dec;33(4):286-291. doi: 10.21091/mppa.2018.4042. PMID: 30508831.

2. Laible C, Swanson D, Garofolo G, Rose DJ. Iliopsoas Syndrome in Dancers. Orthop J Sports Med. 2013 Aug 21;1(3):2325967113500638. doi: 10.1177/2325967113500638. PMID: 26535241; PMCID: PMC4555490.

˂ Older postsNewer posts ˃