Internal snapping hip is a condition where a snapping sensation occurs when the hip is brought from a flexed position to a straight leg position. This snap is often audible and can become painful. Athletes at risk for this condition are those participating in sports with repetitive hip motions, such as dancers, gymnasts, runners, soccer players, and track and field athletes, to name a few.
The snapping sensation is caused by the iliopsoas tendon (which stems from a muscle deep within the lower back and hip) as it snaps across of the lesser trochanter of the femur. With overuse, the snapping can become painful and cause inflammation in the hip. Patients with internal snapping hip are also screened for femoroacetabular impingement and labrum tears, which often accompany snapping hip syndrome. Snapping of the iliopsoas can also happen after a hip replacement surgery. The tendon will snap across the acetabular(socket) portion of the hip and cause groin pain. In the past, the release of the tendon was performed through a large open incision. Now, the advanced technique of hip arthroscopy allows the tendon to be released arthroscopically through two keyhole incisions.
Treatment for internal snapping hip begins with NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen, Advil, Aleve, etc.) to manage any inflammation or pain in the groin. Patients are then started on a physical therapy program, which includes stretching and strengthening exercises for the hip and lower back.
If the snapping hip continues to be painful and problematic, arthroscopic surgery of the hip may be necessary to perform a partial release of the tight iliopsoas tendon.