Injury Fact Sheet: Snapping Hip Syndrome

By on November 13, 2012


Hip problems account for approximately 10% of dance injuries. Of these, nearly half are associated with snapping hip syndrome (also known as clicking hip).

Causes & Symptoms:

There are two commonly occuring types of snapping hip:

External (lateral): A tight iliotibial (IT) band and the high demand of external rotation used in ballet technique can lead to snapping hip.  The “snap” is caused by either the Iliotibial band (IT Band or ITB) or the Gluteus Maximum rolling over the greater trochanter of the femur.

Internal (medial): The iliopsoas muscle is often implicated in snapping hip, especially in dancers.  The tendon of this muscle passes over the femoral head or the iliopectoral eminence, a bony prominence on the pelvis.  Medial snapping commonly occurs in the working leg during extensions such as developé and grand battement, and in circular movements such as grande rond de jambe.

A dancer with snapping hip will often find it annoying, but not necessarily painful.  Approximately one third of cases of snapping hip syndrome in dancers result in pain.  Snapping hip can be detected using ultrasound or MRI, although it can also frequently be heard and palpated (felt) by a physician.


Treatments include physical therapy and anti-inflammatory drugs (used in moderation). Gentle stretching and massage of the iliopsoas muscle complemented by strength training targeting the muscles of the hip are known to help relieve painful cases of internal snapping hip.

Of Note:

Over-rotation in individuals with tight IT bands and/or iliopsoas muscles will likely result in snapping hip syndrome. Young dancers are more likely to possess the amount of external rotation in the hip necessary for ballet.  Care should be taken when teaching adult beginning classes not to emphasize the maximum turnout required of children and professionals.

Further Reading:

** Note: Fact sheets are compiled from peer-reviewed resources, and are intended for reference only.  For a complete list of references, click here.  In the event of an injury, seek advice from a licensed health professional.  The original content of this site is protected by copyright and may be shared, but not be republished without permission.  For full disclaimers and disclosures, visit our policies.

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