Question: My hip is snapping and I think it’s dislocating. What should I do? Help!
Answer: Patients often present complaining of snapping of their hip. Sometimes they can demonstrate the maneuver causing the snap. Occasionally, it is visible and other times audible. It can be painful, but frequently it is not. Other times people present very concerned that their hip is dislocating or “popping out of the socket.” What causes this?
In most incidences, painless snapping about the hip is harmless. It is usually caused by one of the tendons that move the hip joint sliding over the pelvis or femur (thigh bone) creating the sensation of snapping. When it occurs in the groin, the iliopsoas tendon may be the cause and when on the outside of the hip, it may be the iliotibial band (IT band). The latter is frequently visible whereas the former is audible.
Painful snapping can represent a problem with the hip joint itself, such as a tear of the cartilage around the hip socket (the labrum), micro-instability or trochanteric bursitis. Importantly, it is unlikely that your hip is dislocating. This usually only happens after significant trauma such as after a car accident. If you have painful snapping, referral to a hip specialist is suggested.
Dr. Lyall Ashberg is a Board-Certified and Fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in hip disorders and minimally invasive hip preservation surgery including hip arthroscopy and robotic (MAKO) hip joint replacement. Dr. Ashberg performs arthroscopic treatment of conditions such as acetabular labral tears, femoracetabular impingement (FAI), and borderline dysplasia.
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