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Guide to Snapping Hip Syndrome Treatment

by Patty Weasler, RN July 25, 2021 0 Comments

Wearing Groin support outside

Snapping hip syndrome, also known as coxa saltans, is a condition where the person will feel or hear a snapping or clicking sound in their hip as they walk. It’s typically considered an overuse condition that affects both genders but has a slightly higher incidence in women. If you’re dealing with snapping hip syndrome, treatment (after proper diagnosis) can be started with these simple remedies; most of which you can do at home!

Targeting Treatment

Successful treatment for snapping hip syndrome can start at home, but before you begin it’s important to know where and what could be causing the snapping sound. The three most common issues are:

  1. When the iliotibial band (ITB) moves over the greater trochanter.
  2. When the iliopsoas tendon, part of the hip flexors, catches a bony prominence on the pelvis. 3. A hip labral tear.

Understanding snapping hip syndrome and what is happening within your hip joint makes it easier to treat the root cause. This is why it’s important to get a proper diagnosis from your medical professional before starting treatment.

Try Using a Cold Compress

One of the first at-home conservative treatments you can try for snapping hip syndrome is applying a cold compress or ice pack to the affected area. When cold is applied to soft tissues it numbs pain by interrupting the pain signal. The cold also constricts, or narrows, blood vessels which will decrease swelling.

  • Take an ice pack and place it on the area around your hip joint
  • Leave it on for 20-minute intervals
  • Avoid sleeping with an ice pack on your skin

Wear a Compression Support

Snapping hip syndrome happens when tendons and muscles move over knobs or protrusions from the hip bones. Using a groin brace that covers the back and front of the hip can alleviate several hip problems. The brace will provide compression that helps to warm the joints, increase blood flow, and support your hip joint. This will reduce swelling and help you to feel more assured as you move. Look for a groin brace that is fully adjustable, with breathable fabric.

Get Appropriate Rest

Snapping hip syndrome can lead to a condition called bursitis. This is when the bursa, a fluid-filled sac in the hip joint becomes swollen. If the snapping sensation leads to pain or continues to bother you, take a break from the activities that cause the snapping sound. Resting will allow your body to have time to heal and let the inflammation subside.

Work on Posture & Body Alignment

One of the ways you can continuously work to treat snapping hip syndrome is to maintain correct body alignment. Proper posture can go a long way to keep your joints, especially your hip joints, healthy.

Tips to Improve Posture

Sitting & Standing

How you hold your body while you sit and stand can have a huge impact on your health. If you keep your shoulders slouched forward there will be added stress and strain on your back, neck, and hips. Always make sure you sit and stand straight with your shoulders back and head in a neutral position. It might feel weird at first to sit and stand like this but your joints will thank you.

More on Sitting Posture

Sleeping

To help manage the symptoms of snapping hip syndrome while you sleep use a pillow to keep your hips in alignment. If you sleep on your back place the pillow under your knees. Or if you are a side sleeper, then place the pillow in between your knees. We don’t recommend sleeping on your stomach, this position causes your shoulders to fall forward and strain your back.

More on Sleeping Posture

During Movement & Activity

As you move around be conscientious of your posture. When you bend over, bend at your knees to avoid full hip flexion. Modify your workouts to decrease the stress on your hips as well. When you swim try to use your arms more than your legs. If certain movements hurt, stop and modify the motion to decrease your pain.

Go to Physical Therapy

Help from a physical therapist is an excellent treatment option for snapping hip syndrome. The physical therapist will evaluate your injury to determine the best course of action. Generally, therapy will involve stretching and strengthening the hip muscles, hamstrings, and gluteus maximus. When pain has subsided, the physical therapist may also teach you which exercises to avoid to prevent snapping hip syndrome from recurring.

Recommended Exercises for Snapping Hip Syndrome

Consider Chiropractic Treatment

A chiropractor can help treat the symptoms of snapping hip syndrome by correcting body movement issues, prescribing specific exercises to strengthen the hip and surrounding muscles, and ordering shoe supports or insoles. If there is a misalignment within the spine the chiropractor can also perform a realignment.

Take Pain Relievers

Over-the-counter pain relievers like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) work to decrease swelling and hip pain. These medications will not cure your snapping hip syndrome but will make it easier to perform any exercises or stretches that your physical therapist recommends. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist before you start taking a new medication.

Learn About Cortisone Injections

Cortisone injections use a powerful steroid medication that is injected directly into the painful area. This medication, also called a corticosteroid, can provide serious pain relief and decrease swelling. The success of the treatment may last for a short period of time or can last quite a while. It differs for each person. Talk to your doctor to determine if you are a candidate for this treatment.

When to Consider Snapping Hip Syndrome Surgery

Surgical treatment for snapping hip syndrome is reserved as a last resort for people who do not have success with conservative treatment. Your surgeon will perform a physical examination and likely order some diagnostic imaging like x-rays or an MRI before the surgery to gain a better understanding of your injury. 

The goal of snapping hip syndrome surgery is to relax or lengthen the tendon or ligament that is tight. This will stop the snapping along with any pain or discomfort associated with it. Generally, the procedure is done using arthroscopy. Arthroscopic surgery uses a small incision to gain access to the surgical site and is associated with fewer complications.

How Long Can it Take to Go Away?

How long it takes for snapping hip syndrome to go away will depend upon its cause and the treatments you use. For most patients, conservative treatments are successful and in time the stretching, exercise, and anti-inflammatory medications will eliminate the snapping sound. However, if you need surgery the recovery time will be dependent on the exact type of surgery you had. Talk to your doctor to determine an exact timeline for your recovery.

Managing Snapping Hip Syndrome

Snapping hip syndrome, sometimes called dancer’s hip, is a symptom of a separate hip condition. It is typically caused by a tendon or ligament getting caught on a bony prominence. For many people, this causes no pain and will eventually go away on its own. For others, they will need treatment like a steroid injection, physical therapy, or even surgery. Talk to your doctor to come up with the best treatment plan for you.

Sources:

https://www.physio-pedia.com/Snapping_Hip_Syndrome

https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/snapping-hip/

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Patty Weasler, RN
Patty Weasler, RN

Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.



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