You may be concerned if you hear a pop or snap in your hip during walking, yoga, or athletic activities. While it could be just the natural way your body moves and not a cause of immediate concern, there are instances when a pop could indicate a need for medical attention.
Here at Silicon Valley Orthopaedics, with locations in Fremont, Menlo Park, and Los Gatos, California, George Thabit, III, MD, Nic Gay, MD, Masi Reynolds, DO, and April Mancuso, MD, evaluate hip popping and offer treatment when needed.
Here are the various factors that can lead to hip popping. Read on to learn when it is normal or a cause for concern.
About hip “popping”
Hip popping is characterized by a clicking, snapping, or grinding sound originating from the hip joint during movement. There are several potential causes for the sounds and sensations coming from your joint, including the following:
Tendon and ligament movement
Popping can result from the movement of tendons or ligaments over bony structures as they slide across the hip joint. This is known as snapping hip syndrome. While it sounds scary, it is not a cause for concern.
Gas in the joint
The hip joint contains synovial fluid, which can sometimes produce gas bubbles. The popping sensation may occur when these bubbles burst during movement.
Irregularities in the cartilage
Changes in the cartilage due to wear-and-tear or certain conditions may lead to hip popping.
Imbalances in the muscles
Imbalances in the muscles around the hip can cause misalignment, leading to popping or snapping sensations.
Normal hip popping
Hip popping is often normal and harmless, especially if it is not accompanied by pain, swelling, or limited range of motion. Physically active people, such as athletes, dancers, and regular exercisers, commonly experience some hip popping, and it doesn’t mean there’s a serious problem.
If you notice occasional popping during specific movements but have no other symptoms, there's no need to be concerned.
Concerning pops in the hip
While most instances of hip popping are benign, there are cases where it could be a sign of an underlying issue requiring an orthopedic specialist's attention. These include:
Hip popping accompanied by persistent pain
If your hip popping is accompanied by hip pain or discomfort that affects your daily activities or exercise routine, it's essential to consult with us at Silicon Valley Orthopaedics.
Hip popping and limited range of motion
If the popping sensation is accompanied by reduced flexibility or difficulty moving your hip joint, it may indicate an underlying problem.
Hip popping along with swelling
Popping accompanied by swelling or warmth around the hip joint could indicate an injury or inflammation.
Hip popping following trauma
If the popping started after a fall, sports injury, or accident involving your hip, it's crucial to get a thorough evaluation.
Evaluating and treating hip popping
To prevent or alleviate hip popping, perform regular exercises that strengthen the muscles around the hip joint. Stretching before physical activity can also improve flexibility and reduce the risk of popping.
If you experience persistent hip popping with any of the above concerning symptoms, schedule an orthopedic evaluation to help identify the cause. Depending on the diagnosis, treatment options may include physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medication, or, in rare cases, surgical intervention.
If you’re bothered by hip popping, hip pain, or limitations in movement, make an appointment at Silicon Valley Orthopaedics. We offer a proper diagnosis, start with conservative treatments, and provide more extensive care when necessary. Schedule by calling or using this website.