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Hips Snap Back into Shape

Posted on: 04/12/2002
You've heard of snapping turtles, but how about snapping tendons? A snapping hip happens when the hip tendon of the iliopsoas muscle rubs over the hip bone. This medical problem isn't very common and mostly affects teenagers and young adults. Most of the adolescents with this problem are either dancers or runners (sprinters or long-distance runners).

The problem of snapping iliopsoas is not dangerous or life threatening. However, it can be quite painful. The snap of the tendon over the bone can be felt and heard when the leg moves forward and back. Pain and aching occur in the groin area, making movement difficult.

This problem can be treated with or without surgery. Treatment without surgery means medication, rest from activities that cause snapping, and stretching. Stretching the iliopsoas tendon must take place over a minimum of three months. This combination of treatment works for about one-third of the people affected. The other two-thirds say they feel better, but the symptoms continue.

Surgery can be done to lengthen the tendon. However, hip weakness after surgery has been a problem. To change this, a group of doctors tried a different surgical method. They cut all the tendon fibers at the connection where the muscle ends and the tendon begins. The results were very positive. No one had a measurable loss of hip strength. All of the patients said they would have the operation again if they had to do it over.

Adolescents with painful snapping of the iliopsoas tendon that does not improve with rest and stretching can benefit from surgery. Lengthening the iliopsoas tendon where it meets the muscle is a safe and effective surgery for young patients.

M. B. Dobbs, MD, et al. Surgical Correction of the Snapping Iliopsoas Tendon in Adolescents. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. March 2002. Vol. 84-A. No. 3. Pp. 420-424.

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