Snapping Hip Syndrome - Diagnosis & Treatment

How is snapping hip syndrome diagnosed?

To determine if you have snapping hip syndrome, your doctor will perform a physical examination and check your medical history. In some cases, imaging tests may also be necessary to further investigate your condition. These can include:

  • Physical exam and medical history. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and other information such as the location of the snap, timing of the snap, duration, pain, and impact on your daily activities. The exam may include basic tests such as palpation of the affected area, hip ROM (range of motion), muscle length tests, and hula-hoop test.
  • X-ray. This is a diagnostic procedure that uses small amounts of radiation to create a picture of your spine. Radiography is used both to confirm the snapping hip syndrome and rule out any underlying conditions.
  • Ultrasound. If a physical exam cannot detect the syndrome, your doctor may recommend a dynamic ultrasonography to show the snapping of the iliotibial band over the greater trochanter. Dynamic ultrasound test can also detect associated health problems like tendonitis, iliopsoas bursitis or muscle tears.
  • Iliopsoas bursography. This diagnostic procedure is used to visualise iliopsoas tendon under fluoroscopy after contrast dye is injected into the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that reduces friction between moving tissues.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI can be used to rule out intra-articular causes. It is often done as an arthrogram study to show an inflamed bursa.

How is snapping hip syndrome treated?

Snapping hip syndrome is often painless and may not require medical treatment. If it causes minor pain or discomfort, your doctor may recommend pain relievers and a cold compress. You are required to limit physical activity to give your muscles and tendons time to heal.

In more serious cases, medical treatments such as physical therapy, pain medication or surgery may be necessary.

Treatment for snapping hip syndrome usually includes:

Non-surgical treatments

  • Applying ice or cold compress on the affected area to reduce swelling
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Reducing activity levels
  • Exercises to strengthen and stretch surrounding muscles

Surgical treatments

Rarely, surgery may be necessary to relieve symptoms of snapping hip syndrome. Depending on the underlying cause of the condition, treatment options may include:

  • Iliotibial band release, which involves lengthening the iliotibial band to decrease tension and hip snapping
  • Iliopsoas tendon release, which involves lengthening the iliopsoas tendon to lessen muscle tension and reduce hip clicking
  • Arthroscopic hip debridement, which involves making a small incision at the hip joint cavity to take away debris

Consult a specialist to determine the treatment method most suitable for you. Our experienced orthopaedic surgeons are supported by a comprehensive team of nurses and physiotherapists to provide you with suitable treatment options.

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