Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (also known as SCFE) is a bone disorder that affects the hip joint. The hip joint is a ball and socket joint. The ball part of the joint (epiphysis) is the top of the thigh bone (femur). The bone grows from an area called a growth plate, just below the ball end of the thigh bone. In SCFE, the growth plate slips, which means that the ball and socket don’t line up properly.
This problem is common in teens and is more common in boys than in girls. It is also more common in children who are obese or who are growing rapidly.
The exact cause is unknown. SCFE usually happens during fast bone growth, such as the start of puberty. Weakness in the growth plate causes it to slip off the rest of the thigh bone.
Common symptoms include:
Your healthcare provider will watch you walk and check if the hip has full range of motion. The provider will check to see if:
Hip X-rays may also be done.
It is important to catch and treat SCFE early. Surgery is usually needed. One of 3 surgeries is used depending on the severity of the problem:
After surgery you are placed on crutches for weeks to months. You will have regular appointments with your healthcare provider for the next 18 to 24 months. X-rays are taken to watch the growth plate. Sports and certain activities are restricted until the growth plate closes. Once the growth plate is mature then more intense physical activities are allowed.
The main problems that can occur with SCFE are:
In many cases SCFE is not preventable. However, many people with SCFE are overweight. The extra weight puts more stress on the growth plate in the thigh bone at the hip. Losing weight may help relieve some of the pressure.