Slipped capital femoral epiphysis

A slipped capital femoral epiphysis occurs when the upper end of the thighbone (femur) slips at the growth plate (physis). The femur is then not able to fit correctly into the hip socket.

Rapid growth and a hormone imbalance during adolescence may cause the femur to slip.

Symptoms usually begin between 8 and 16 years of age, but may begin earlier in girls.

Symptoms may be triggered by growing or gaining weight quickly. Symptoms may include:

  • Hip tenderness and decreased movement during the early stages of the condition.
  • Mild discomfort in the groin, thigh, or knee while walking or running. Rest relieves this discomfort.
  • Stiffness and a limp, especially when the person is tired.
  • Muscle spasms.
  • Mild to severe pain.

Treatment may include traction and surgery. A slipped capital femoral epiphysis may lead to early degenerative arthritis of the hip if it is not detected early and treated properly.

Last Updated: September 15, 2008

Author: Jan Nissl, RN, BS

Medical Review: Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine

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