External Snapping Hip Syndrome

The mechanics of your body are truly a marvel due to its complicated construction and operation. Simply walking in a straight line takes the coordination of hundreds of muscles, multiple joints, and a complex array of tendons and ligaments. That system can be impaired by disease, genetics, deviation in normal body anatomy, or injury, such as in the case of External Snapping Hip Syndrome treated by hip surgery specialists.

What is External Snapping Hip Syndrome (ESHS)?

The condition of ESHS is an issue that occurs in the hip region, when a fibrous connector known as the Iliotibial band “snaps” over the curved protrusion of the femur bone at the outermost point of the hip joint. The result is a snapping or cracking noise when the hip is moved in a specific motion. Due to a change in the anatomy of the band, it is no longer able to smoothly glide over the bones and joints of the hip, and produces the audible symptom.

What Causes ESHS?

ESHS usually occurs because the Iliotibial band has thickened for some reason, typically related to an overuse injury in sports such as soccer, running, or dance. It occurs more often in males than in females, and in about 5% of the population. While some patients of hip surgery doctors only indicate that they’ve experienced the noise and wondered about the source, others suffer significant pain or the hip feels weak and unable to operate properly.

How is ESHS Cured?

Depending upon severity, ESHS may receive conservative treatment at first. Anti-inflammatory medications, rest and ice are recommended, and the orthopedic doctor may prescribe a course of physical therapy or rehabilitation. If those treatment options fail then a more aggressive approach may be necessary, especially if pain is significant. At that point, hip surgery is usually performed and the procedure is done arthroscopically if possible, to avoid the major risks and complications from more invasive surgical methods. The goal of surgery is to lengthen the Iliotibial band and fix any other impediments found so that the snapping no longer occurs. After surgery, the patient can expect the typical process of recovery and then a round of physical therapy to rebuild muscle strength.

External Snapping Hip Syndrome is not a common orthopedic issue, but it is a condition that athletes should have knowledge of, so that they may seek the appropriate treatment should it happen to them.

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