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How do I Treat Hip Popping?

Malcolm Tatum
By
Updated Feb 06, 2024
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Also known as snapping hip syndrome, hip popping is a condition that affects many athletes as well as others who engage in strenuous physical activity involving repetitive hip movements. The popping is caused by the movement of a tendon or muscle over the bone structure of the hip. In most cases, there is no pain. However, the popping may be distracting and somewhat irritating.

There are several ways to treat hip popping. One approach is to take an over the counter medication that has anti-inflammatory properties. Aspirin or ibuprofen not only help to minimize any inflammation or swelling that may be caused by the movement of the muscle over the bone, but can also help to minimize any pain that may be present as a result.

Making some changes in the way you conduct certain physical activities may help to reduce the hip popping. For example, if you notice the popping occurs while you swim, try relying more on your arms as well as your lower legs. This will help to minimize hip movement and thus prevent the actions that lead to the popping.

Applying an ice pack can also help to ease hip popping. Taking the time to do this before and after engaging in activities that normally cause the snapping hip will not only lessen the severity of the snapping, but also aid in eventually eliminating the popping altogether. In the short term, it can also help with any minor pain that the popping may cause.

You can also try various exercises before you begin your activities. Some stretching exercises can help with hip flexion and prevent the snapping or popping sound that occurs whenever you move your hips in a certain direction. Many of these involve stretching the hip abductor and hip flexor muscles, holding the position for a moment, then repeating the steps. Ask your doctor or a physical therapist about hip exercises that will help you manage the popping to better effect.

Since hip popping is not usually accompanied by pain, you should see a doctor if the popping causes you a significant amount of discomfort. This is especially true if the snapping or popping appeared after undergoing surgery for other hip problems or being involved in an accident. Seeking professional medical services is also a good idea if the popping seems to be occurring more often instead of beginning to subside. Your doctor can examine the hip and make sure there are no additional factors that could lead to permanent damage of the bone or the muscles surrounding the hip.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGeek, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By Oceana — On May 30, 2012

I have had issues with my hips popping when walking, but never when swimming. This is probably because I swim very gently.

It seems that if I spread my legs far apart and touch the ground, hold it for about twenty seconds, and repeat this movement three or four times, I don’t have issues with my hips. Also, it seems to help when I do a few slow lunges and hold them before walking.

Swimming actually seems to lessen the popping if I do it before taking a walk. I think that the gentle resistance that the water provides lets me lube up my hip joints with easy movements, and this is a great precursor to a more intense workout.

By wavy58 — On May 30, 2012

I didn’t even know it was possible to pop your hip bone before I met my husband. He was hit with a backhoe years ago and catapulted through the air, and ever since, he has had hip and back problems.

If he does any dance movements that involve the hips, he feels pain. Sometimes, he feels like his hips are dislocated when he is just lying around. He will rotate at the waist, raise his leg, and pop his hip.

He says that this actually makes the pain go away. So, hip popping isn’t always a negative thing, I suppose, though it doesn’t seem natural.

By candyquilt — On May 29, 2012

@fify, @turquoise-- I'm a runner and this happens to me when I overdo my training and don't get enough rest. I went to the doctor for it because I was also afraid of a dislocation. That's how it actually felt to me. I'd be running, suddenly, I'd hear a hip popping sound and this feeling like my hip and leg are moving separately. I never had any pain though.

My doctor assured me that everything is fine. He told me to get some rest, take some time off running, make sure I'm hydrated enough and gave me stretches to do everyday. I followed his directions and the popping disappeared. Now whenever I get hip popping, I know it's time to take it easy.

By turquoise — On May 28, 2012

@fify-- Since when has this been going on? Did you suffer from an injury that might have triggered it? The only way to find out what's going on is to go to a specialist who can diagnose you. I'll hope you'll be able to do that soon.

I don't want to scare you and I'm definitely not an expert. But I have gone through this myself and I fear that you might be dealing with a partial hip dislocation or maybe an injury related hip dysfunction. I had similar symptoms when my hip was partially dislocated, a popping sound in my hip, pain and numbness that seemed to travel. Getting and MR and/or an x-ray would show signs of such a problem.

I emphasize "partial" dislocation, because if it was fully dislocated, you would be in too much pain to even sit in front of the computer. But a partial dislocation or a tear in the surrounding tissue or muscles could cause more minor symptoms.

If that's the case, it can be treated with physical therapy or surgery. Physical therapists can teach you how to get pressure off the hip with certain exercises to treat the pain.

By fify — On May 28, 2012

What about if the hip popping isn't related to physical activity?

My hip pops at minimum several times a day. Sometimes it is followed by what seems like hip joint pain that can radiate down my leg. It happens when I'm just sitting down or walking normally. It tends to get worse if I sit still for several hours (at work) or if I walk a lot. But really, it can happen at any time.

I've tried stretches and ice many times, but it doesn't help. I take anti-inflammatory medications or use topical pain reliever sometimes. But since I'm dealing with this every day, I don't want to rely on medications.

What might be causing my hip popping? Do you think there is something serious going on? I don't have health insurance right now, so I'm hoping that this will go away on its own but it doesn't seem like it will. I would appreciate any recommendations.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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