,Hip snapping syndrome - the name conjures up images of kids from the 1960s clicking their fingers in time to cool beats. Sadly it's not so much fun. Hip snap is that funny click some people get when they straighten their legs from the hip. If you have it is likely to be irritating or perturbing, it can even be painful. It is caused by one of three things: Most commonly it is the tendon of one or more of the muscles which you use to lift your leg out to the side (and to keep your pelvis level whilst walking) flicking over your greater trochanter, that is the bony bit you can feel on the outside of your 'hip'; less commonly it is the shared tendon of two of the muscles you use to bend forward from the hip (or do the last part of sitting up) flicking over another bony prominence called the lesser trochanter; finally it can sometimes be due to internal damage within the hip joint itself.
In the case of internal damage it is likely to be a case of rest and allow the damage to repair or potentially even surgical intervention if that doesn't happen and the condition is painful, but the vast majority of patients have the extra-articular type simply caused by a tendon flicking over a bony prominence. In most cases a snapping hip is not painful but wherever one tissue rubs against another there is the potential for irritation and inflammation and in this case it is the fat pads designed to protect the tendons from the bony bits that get inflamed; bursitis can be very painful.
So why does this happen? There may be (usually very minor) underlying bio-mechanical issues, one leg longer than the other or a slight torsion in the pelvis, or the tendons may be under increased tension because the muscles to which they belong are shortened or held in tension, either because of over-training, unaccustomed exercise or, ironically lack of muscle tone. All of these are potentially quite easy fixes...even the leg length discrepancy may be resolved with an over the counter heel-lift for the shoe.
Why would you bother to get this sorted? You may well decide not to, if it is minor and not painful...but...If it is indicative of a leg length discrepancy or a pelvic torsion then sooner or later that is likely to affect your back and if it is due to over training your muscles surely you'd want to know and redress the balance before you cause other problems, likewise if particular muscles are not firing properly, that will affect the energy required to walk and may lead to future back and knee issues, finally, of course, it would be better not to let it develop into bursitis as that can take some time to resolve.
Snapping hip isn't serious but it is a great early warning sign to get things checked out to stop it becoming something else.
Damian is the principal osteopath at Vauxhall Village Osteopathy and Oval Osteopathy