UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Orthopedics

Title: Chief complaint: "My hip snaps when I exercise"

Keywords: Hip pain, snapping hip, tendon (PubMed Search)

Posted: 12/27/2020 by Brian Corwell, MD (Updated: 2/28/2021)
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Chief complaint:  “My hip snaps when I exercise”

Both athletes and non-athletes may report a “snapping” sound with certain movements

This may affect up to 10% of the population

May be associated with activities than involve repetitive hip flexion

Symptoms may be due to an internal or an external cause

External causes are usually due to a tendon passing over a bony prominence

This can be felt as either an audible sensation and/or even a palpable snap

This may or may not involve pain or discomfort

This is most commonly due to a benign cause

During movements in flexion, extension or combined with internal rotation the iliotibial band may move over the greater trochanter.

Alternatively, the hamstring tendon may pass over the ischial tuberosity

There are several other causes with similar mechanisms

Symptoms are usually minimal and not serious

This can be reproduced on bedside clinical exam

               Ask the patient to identify the area of snapping with one finger which will help with anatomic localization

First line therapy is physical therapy which focuses on:

Improving muscle length if muscle is too tight   OR

Improving neuromuscular activation if problem is due to excessive muscle activation