Snapping Hip Test

Gain access to an essential resource, the Snapping Hip Test, to assist you in diagnosing a snapping hip during physical assessments. Download today!

By Olivia Sayson on May 15, 2024.

Fact Checked by RJ Gumban.

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What is snapping hip syndrome?

Snapping hip syndrome, colloquially known as a dancer's hip, manifests as a distinct snapping sensation or audible popping noise within the hip joint during various movements such as walking, running, or even mundane actions like standing up from a seated position or swinging the leg. While this sensation may initially cause alarm, for many individuals, it remains painless and does not impede normal function aside from the audible or tactile experience.

In certain instances, snapping hip syndrome can be accompanied by discomfort, weakness, or a sense of instability in the hip, notably affecting activities involving dynamic hip movements like dancing or athletic endeavors.


The primary symptoms associated with snapping hip syndrome include:

  • Snapping sensation or popping sound: This characteristic symptom manifests prominently within the hip joint during movements such as walking, running, or bending.
  • Pain: In certain instances, the snapping sensation may be coupled with discomfort, mainly localized in the groin or buttock region.
  • Catching or instability: Individuals experiencing snapping hip syndrome may also report a feeling of their hip "catching" or experiencing instability during movement.


Snapping hip syndrome typically arises from aberrant interactions between tendons or muscles and bony prominences around the hip joint. The primary types are:

  • Internal snapping hip: This variation occurs when the iliopsoas tendon, responsible for hip flexion, rubs against either the hip socket's rim or a bony prominence on the femur during flexion movements.
  • External snapping hip: Here, the iliotibial band (IT band), a sturdy band of tissue along the outer thigh, encounters friction against the bony protrusion on the femur's outer side during hip abduction movements.

Less common causes encompass:

  • Presence of loose cartilage or bone fragments within the hip joint.
  • Snapping is induced by internal joint issues, such as a labral tear within the hip socket's cartilage.

Printable Snapping Hip Test

Download this Snapping Hip Test to aid in the accurate assessment and diagnosis of snapping hip syndrome, facilitating targeted treatment strategies for improved patient management.

What are the three types of snapping hip syndrome?

There are three main types of snapping hip syndrome: external, internal, and intra-articular. Each type is differentiated by the location of the snapping sensation and the specific structures involved. Let's explore each type in more detail:

1. External snapping hip syndrome

It occurs when the posterior iliotibial band (IT band) rubs against the bony bump on the outer side of the thigh bone during hip abduction movements. The IT band is a thick band of tissue along the outer thigh. Symptoms include a snapping sensation on the outer hip, often with pain or tightness in the IT band, exacerbated by activities like running, stair climbing, and squatting.

2. Internal snapping hip syndrome

Arises when a tendon or muscle within the hip joint rubs against bone during movement. The sub-types include Iliopsoas tendon snapping, often caused by the iliopsoas tendon rubbing against the hip socket or thigh bone during bending movements, is a common issue, while rectus femoris snapping is less common and occurs when the quadriceps muscle rubs against the anterior hip and joint during flexion.

Symptoms include a snapping sensation in the groin or front of the hip, potentially accompanied by pain and a feeling of catching or instability, especially during high knees, lunges, or soccer kicks.

3. Intra-articular snapping hip syndrome

The least common type of affected hip part, stemming from issues within the joint itself, lies loose cartilage or bone fragments and labral tears in the hip socket. Symptoms include a snapping sensation around the hip, varying pain levels, and potential joint locking or instability. Aggravating activities involve movements that stress the hip joint, such as twisting or pivoting.

What is the Snapping Hip Test?

A snapping hip test is a physical examination technique used by healthcare professionals, such as physiotherapists or doctors, to assess the hip joint's functionality and identify potential issues, particularly those related to snapping hip syndrome.

During the test, the patient typically lies down, and the practitioner moves the patient's leg through various ranges of motion while observing for any snapping sensations, audible sounds, or abnormalities in movement. The test may involve specific maneuvers designed to provoke snapping sensations or reproduce symptoms associated with snapping hip syndrome.

The test results can provide valuable information about the presence and possible causes of snapping hip syndrome, helping guide further diagnostic evaluation and treatment planning.

How does our Snapping Hip Test template work?

Our Snapping Hip Test can help support practitioners during the physical examination for documentation. Here's a 4-step guide to effectively use the resource:

Step 1: Patient preparation

Before beginning the examination, gathering pertinent patient information, including medical history details and complaints about hip discomfort or snapping sensations, is essential. Ensure the patient is positioned comfortably, supine, or side-lying to facilitate the examination process.

Step 2: Conducting the examination

Once the patient is prepared, proceed with a thorough physical examination of the hip joint, assessing range of motion and observing for any signs of snapping or discomfort during movement. Administer specific tests, such as the Ober, flexion, and passive rotation tests, to provoke snapping sensations and identify potential causes.

Step 3: Documenting findings

Record detailed observations regarding the location, frequency, and nature of any snapping sensations reported by the patient during the examination. Document the results of specific tests, noting any positive findings indicative of external, internal, or intra-articular snapping hip syndrome. Include relevant patient responses, such as reports of pain or discomfort associated with painful snapping hip sensations.

Step 4: Interpretation and follow-up

Analyze the documented findings to formulate a clinical impression and diagnosis of snapping hip syndrome, considering contributing factors and potential differential diagnoses. Develop a personalized plan of care based on the assessment results, treatment goals, and patient preferences. Schedule follow-up appointments as needed to monitor progress.

Snapping Hip Test example

We have developed a Snapping Hip Test Documentation Sample PDF example to assist you in comprehending how this free template operates. This sample demonstrates how to record observations after administering the Snapping Hip Test on a theoretical patient's symptoms.

Download our free Snapping Hip Test template example here:

Snapping Hip Test template

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Who should undergo a snapping hip test?
Who should undergo a snapping hip test?

Commonly asked questions

Who should undergo a snapping hip test?

Individuals experiencing snapping sensations or discomfort in the hip joint during movement, such as walking, running, or bending, may benefit from undergoing a snapping hip test. It is particularly relevant for those suspected of having snapping hip syndrome or other hip pathologies.

What are the common symptoms of snapping hip syndrome?

Common symptoms include a snapping sensation or popping sound in the hip joint during movement, pain or discomfort in the hip, groin, or buttock area, and a feeling of catching or instability in the hip joint.

How is a snapping hip test performed?

During the test, the patient is typically positioned lying down, and the healthcare provider moves the patient's leg through various ranges of motion while observing for snapping sensations or audible sounds. Specific tests, such as the Ober and flexion tests, may also be performed to assess for snapping hip syndrome.

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