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Snapping Hip Syndrome

If your hip pain presents as a deep ache and “thunk”, you might have snapping hip syndrome. The technical name is “coxa saltans”

Hip issues

Anterior Snapping Hip

A common muscular cause of snapping hip is a tight iliopsoas. This is a name for the iliacus and psoas muscles working together, which are both hip flexors. The iliacus muscle is illustrated above. When the muscles are tight, they can flick over part of the thigh bone, or a nearby bursa. Bursae are fluid filled sacks that sit in areas of high friction. Often this is between bone and tendon or bone and muscle. If a bursa is irritated enough, it can become inflamed and cause bursitis. Ideally we would want to start treatment for your hip before it develops into something more complicated.

Iliopsoas can become tight if the body thinks it needs to keep the hip flexed. This could simply be due to inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle. Alternatively, this is the position the body likes to take when the hip is arthritic. Your osteopath will take a detailed case history to aid in working out the root cause of the problem. They will then work to relieve your symptoms and the original problem.

Lateral Snapping Hip

The TFL muscle controls a better known structure: the IT band. The ITB is a broad, long piece of tissue not dissimilar to a tendon. It attaches to the outside of the knee, and is of particular interest to runners. The band gets tight (or more specifically, the TFL tenses up) in response to some knee problems. The role of the band is primarily to stabilise an unstable knee. However, the discomfort of a tight ITB is often seen as the main problem, so a foam roller is taken to it and the original cause is left undiscovered.

Your osteopath will look at your body as a whole, and aim to find the root cause of your problem. If you have lateral snapping hip syndrome, it might be appropriate to focus more on the knee than the hip. A historic ligament injury in the knee could be the cause of your hip problems, and rehabilitation to strengthen the knee could be the solution. We treat the person, not the condition, so book in via the link below to see what we can do for you.

Other Causes

When snapping hip is not muscular, it is not called coxa saltans. Problems with the joint itself can cause similar symptoms, including the noise. Cartilage is often the cause, either due to a loose piece within the joint, or a tear in the labrum. The labrum is a lip of cartilage around the ball and socket that help to keep the joint secure. A tear can be caused by a traumatic injury, including a sports injury. These causes may take longer to resolve, and may require referral back to your GP if further investigation or less conservative treatment is needed.


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