This common condition is a sensation of snapping or catching in the hip. Many people experience this sensation when performing certain movements of the leg. In most cases it is not harmful or painful.

Snapping hip is caused by slight variations in anatomy that prevent the hip joint from working smoothly. It may result from an abnormally tight iliotibial band. This band is a tendon-like length of connective tissue that passes down the outer side of the thigh. If this band is too tight, it can create a snapping sensation during activity as it slides over and behind the femur’s greater trochanter. Snapping hip syndrome can also be caused by an abnormally tight iliopsoas tendon. This tendon can create a snapping sensation as it slides along the femur’s lesser trochanter. Snapping hip can also be caused by torn cartilage or by debris in the hip joint.

Symptoms may include a recurring snapping sound or catching sensation in the hip during certain movements of the leg. For some people, this sensation is uncomfortable or painful. A snapping hip caused by a cartilage tear or debris may cause the hip to lock up during movement.

Treatment options depend on the severity of the symptoms. A snapping hip that causes no problems may not require treatment. A snapping hip that causes some discomfort may be treated with rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medications, and modification of activities. A painful snapping hip may require options such as physical therapy, cortisone injections or surgery.