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Rady Children's Specialists

Snapping Hip Syndrome (Coxa Saltans)

When there is a snapping sound that occurs with flexion or extension of the hip, it is called snapping hip syndrome, or coxa saltans. The snapping sound comes from the tendon of the iliopsoas (hip flexor) muscle as it moves through its normal motion across some of the bony bumps of the pelvis and thighbone. It is usually painless.

Girls seem to be affected more frequently. It is most commonly seen from activities that involve repetitive hip flexion, such as dance, soccer, gymnastics and running. The cause is thought to be tight hip flexor muscles and unbalanced strength in the pelvis, hip and abdominal muscles.


Symptoms of snapping hip include:

  • A snapping or clicking sound originating at the hip.
  • Voluntarily reproducible  symptoms with extension and rotation of the hip.
  • Occasional pain.
  • Feeling that the hip is coming out of place.


Symptoms and a physical examination will usually identify coxa saltans. An X-ray can be performed to check for a more serious cause of pain.


Snapping hip syndrome that is painless does not require any treatment. If you do have pain, resting and refraining from activities should be done until the pain resolves. Anti-inflammatory medicines might also be helpful and occasionally, physical therapy, can improve flexibility and strength. Once pain has resolved and flexibility and strength have improved, a gradual return to sports and activities is permitted.