Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hip FAQ

Question:

Our 19-year-old daughter is a dancer on a summer tour with a very prestigious dance group. She's been having problems with snapping and popping of her left hip. It doesn't hurt but it's loud enough to be heard on stage. We're trying to find out anything we can that might help her. Are there any tricks to keep this from happening without changing the way she dances?

Answer:

Many dancers and other athletes are affected by an annoying hip condition that results in a snapping sound and feeling that occurs whenever they bend or flex their hip. Coxa sultans is the medical term for this condition. But it is better known by a more descriptive term: snapping hip. The treatment depends on the cause. If it's something loose inside the joint (e.g., piece of bone or cartilage) that's getting caught, it might have to be removed surgically. If it's a tendon rubbing over a bone, then stretching might be the answer. Sometimes the only effective treatment is rest and stopping the motion that aggravates the condition. That's a tough prescription for a young dancer on a special tour. The first step is to get a proper diagnosis. If possible, have her see an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in dancers or other athletes. If all other serious possibilities are ruled out, then conservative (nonoperative) care is the way to go. Antiinflammatories may be prescribed by the physician. The therapist shows the affected individual how to stretch properly. Rest is advised along with elimination (or at least moderation) of activities and motions that aggravate the problem. It may be necessary for the therapist to work with the patient to re-program how and when the hip muscles are activated. This is called neuromuscular re-education. If physical therapy is unable to alter the symptoms, then the physician may try injecting the hip. And if that doesn't work, then surgery is the final treatment to try. But before we go any further down that path, get an evaluation and diagnosis. Then a proper plan of care can be put into effect. Cara L. Lewis, PT, PhD. Extra-Articular Snapping Hip: A Literature Review. In Sports Health. May/June 2010. Vol. 2. No. 3. Pp. 186-190.

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