Hip Clicking Explained

Hip Clicking Explained

Article by Zoe Russell

Hip Clicking? Why?

The Dynamics of Hip Motion

The hip joint boasts a remarkable range of movement, enabling us to perform a variety of actions from bending to running and twisting. Occasionally, you might notice a ‘click’ during these movements. Let’s explore the reasons behind this phenomenon.

Normal Vs. Abnormal Hip Clicks

While a clicking hip can be a benign part of joint motion, persistent and painful clicks warrant a professional assessment by a physiotherapist. It’s crucial to differentiate normal joint sounds from those indicative of underlying issues.

Origins of Clicking Hip

Inside the Joint (Intra-articular Causes)

  • Osteoarthritis: Degeneration within the hip joint can lead to clicking sounds. Read more: Hip Osteoarthritis.
  • Loose Bodies: Small pieces of bone or cartilage within the joint may disrupt normal movement, causing clicking or catching sensations.

Around the Joint (Peri-articular Causes)

  • Acetabular Labral Tears: The labrum’s damage can lead to clicking and pain in the groin area. Read more: Hip Labral Tear.
  • Articular Cartilage Damage: Over time or due to trauma, the smooth cartilage that coats bone surfaces may wear down, causing clicking.

Outside the Joint (Extra-articular Causes)

Often, clicks originate from outside the hip joint, with several structures potentially responsible:

  • Snapping Hip Syndrome (Coxa Saltans): The hip flexors may click as they slide over the femur’s bony prominence.
  • Iliopsoas Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursae can lead to clicking when the hip flexors move.
  • Muscle Slides: The iliotibial band or gluteus maximus muscles may produce a click when moving across the femur’s greater trochanter.
clicking hip
Clicking Hip Assessment

Physiotherapy Management of Clicking Hip

Physiotherapy plays a pivotal role in managing and treating a clicking hip. The approach begins with a thorough assessment to pinpoint the exact cause of the click.

Assessment and Diagnosis

Your physiotherapist will perform a detailed examination, possibly including imaging tests like MRI or X-rays, to diagnose the cause of your clicking hip.

Treatment Strategies

  • Manual Therapy: Techniques such as massage and joint mobilisation can alleviate symptoms.
  • Exercise Prescription: Tailored exercises strengthen surrounding muscles, improving joint stability and function.
  • Education: Understanding your condition and how to avoid aggravating activities is vital.
  • Assistive Devices: In some cases, braces or orthotics might be recommended to support the hip joint.

Long-Term Management

  • Activity Modification: Learning new ways to move can help prevent further irritation.
  • Regular Follow-ups: Ongoing sessions ensure progress and adjust treatments as needed.

When to Seek Help for a Clicking Hip

If you’re experiencing a clicking hip, especially if it’s painful, don’t hesitate to contact a physiotherapy clinic. Early intervention often leads to better outcomes.


A clicking hip can range from a simple mechanical phenomenon to a sign of a more complex condition. Understanding the nature of your hip click is the first step towards effective management. With physiotherapy’s comprehensive approach, addressing both the symptoms and underlying causes, you can expect a return to smooth, pain-free movement. Remember, a proactive stance on hip health is essential, so book an appointment with your physiotherapist if hip clicks are causing concern.

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