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Snapping hip syndrome is a specific syndrome which is characterized by an audible snap or click that occurs in or around the hip. Although this syndrome is well recognized it is very poorly understood. Snapping hip syndrome may be painful or painless.

Individuals with snapping hip syndrome may feel it when they walk, get up from a chair or swing their leg around. There are several causes for snapping hip syndrome, most commonly due to tendons catching on bony prominences. It is also known as “coxa saltans” syndrome.

Incidence of the condition

Unfortunately, no data are available on the prevalence or incidence of snapping hip syndrome. The fact is that the syndrome occurs most often in individuals aged 15-40 years and affects females slightly more often than males. In one clinical study, the rate of some form of snapping hip syndrome in female ballet dancers with hip complaints was 43.8%, and approximately 30% noted pain with this condition. Athletes, such as ballet dancers and gymnasts, are at special risk for snapping hip syndrome due to repetitive and physically demanding movements.

Anatomy of the hip joint

What exactly is the pelvis from the anatomy perspective? It is the link between the trunk and the lower extremities. There is a hip joint between these entities.

Normal movements in this joint include:

  • 3° of freedom,
  • approximately 120° of flexion,
  • 20° of extension,
  • 40° of abduction,
  • 25° of adduction, and
  • 45° each of internal and external rotation.

What strengthens this joint?

The ligament called the ilio-tibial band, or tensor fascia lata. It is a ligament that originates from the iliac crest and inserts on the lateral proximal tibia. Crossing 2 joints, this ligament functions to flex and rotate the thigh medially.

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