Snapping Hip Syndrome

The diagram to the right illustrates the IT (iliotibial) band snapping over the greater trochanter of the femur.

The hip is a ball-and-socket-joint: the femoral head forms the ball and the acetabulum, which is part of the pelvic bone, forms the socket. The labrum of the hip is a cuff of thick fibrocartilage tissue that surrounds the acetabulum. The labrum helps to support the hip joint and provide stability. Surrounding the hip joint are ligaments, tendons, and muscles that control hip movement.

Snapping hip syndrome, also known as ‘dancer’s hip,’ occurs when tendons and muscles slide/snap over knobs in the hip joint. It is often caused by tightness in the tendons and muscle imbalance in the structures surrounding the hip. It typically occurs in young athletes due to tightness in the hip muscles caused by growth spurts. Snapping hip syndrome can occur in different areas of the hip:

  • Outside the hip: the most common site for snapping hip where the iliotibial (IT) band passes over the portion of the femur called the greater trochanter.
  • Front of the hip: caused by the iliopsoas tendon catching on the front of the pelvis bone.
  • Back of the hip: caused by the hamstring tendon catching on the ischial tuberosity.
  • Cartilage problems: a torn labrum can cause a snapping/popping sensation and damaged cartilage can loosen and float into the hip joint causing pain; it can be debilitating for patients.

Snapping hip syndrome is commonly seen in dancers and gymnasts.


  • Snapping sound
  • Catching/snapping/popping sensation
  • Pain

If your symptoms last longer than 2 weeks and interfere with daily activity you should consult your primary care physician for a referral.

What To Expect During Your Appointment:

During your appointment, Dr. Betz will perform a physical exam to test range of motion in the hip and the leg strength. In-office imaging may be done or an MRI may be set up to diagnose the cause of your pain. Once the results of your imaging come back, Dr. Betz will provide treatment options and help you decide the course of action that is best for you.


Dr. Betz performs an in-office exam on the patient to check for snapping hip syndrome.

Non-Surgical Options:

  • Rest
  • Medication: non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are often prescribed to minimize swelling and pain.
  • Physical Therapy: strengthening the upper leg will help relieve pain. Stretching is also performed to help regain mobility. The physical therapist can also work to realign the joint.
  • Injections: If the other non-surgical treatments fail, Dr. Betz can use injections to help reduce pain.
    • Steroid Injection (Cortisone): steroids are proven to be very effective at reducing inflammation and pain when injected directly into the joint space.
    • Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP): your own blood is used to extract platelet-rich plasma, which is then injected into your hip joint. The platelets within the plasma stimulate the body to repair itself.

Surgical Options:

Snapping hip syndrome rarely requires surgery. However, if non-surgical treatment fails, Dr. Betz may discuss surgery as an option. Each patient and case is different, but snapping hip syndrome can usually be treated arthroscopically. For more information on arthroscopic surgery please see “Arthroscopic Surgery”.

For postoperative patients:

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