Snapping hip is a condition in which a muscle or tendon moving over a bone in the hip, causing a snapping sensation. This condition is usually harmless, however, in some cases, snapping hip leads to the development of bursitis; it may affect athletic performance and also increase one's risk for joint damage.


Snapping hip is generally caused by tightness in the muscles and tendons of the hip joint. In some cases, cartilage problems may also cause the hip to catch. Depending on the type of snapping hip, the cause may differ.

  • Outside - When found on the outside of the hip, it is caused by the iliotibial band passing over the portion of the thighbone known as the greater trochanter.
  • Front - Snapping hip can affect the front of the hip when the rectus femoris tendon moves over the head of the thighbone.
  • Back - When it affects the back of the hip, it involves the hamstring and the sitting bone known as the ischial tuberosity.

These types of are common amongst those who are involved in sports and activities that require repeated bending at the hip. It is also common for those going through a growth spurt during adolescence.


In most cases snapping hip will involve a clicking, snapping or popping sound when flexing the hip, and in some cases, symptoms such as:

  • Pain in the outside, front or back of the hip
  • Inflammation and tenderness of the affected leg
  • The weakness of the affected leg
  • Difficulty walking
  • Inability to lift the leg to the side

In some cases, snapping hip may lead to hip bursitis. Bursitis affects the fluid-filled sacs that cushion the hip joint, causing inflammation that prevents the muscle from moving over the bone smoothly. When snapping hip leads to the development of bursitis, it can become painful and disabling.


Treatment of snapping hip syndrome is aimed at relieving pain in the hip and weakness in the leg. Rest, activity modification, as well as pain and anti-inflammatory medications, are generally advised by Dr Pienaar. Physical therapy may also be beneficial in stretching, strengthening and enhancing alignment in the hip joint. In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be advised for pain management.

For more severe pain that resists non-surgical treatments, your orthopaedic surgeon may recommend surgery. Depending on the type of snapping hip, surgery may be done using arthroscopic or open surgery to address the problem.