Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE) is the most common hip disorder in adolescents. It occurs when the head of the femur slips off the neck of the bone at the growth plate. In most cases, it only occurs on one side.

This condition affects teens and pre-teens who are still growing. It usually develops in periods of rapid growth during puberty.

There are two types of SCFE. Approximately 90% of cases are stable. With stable SCFE, patients can put weight on the affected hip (with or without crutches). Fewer than 10% of cases are unstable, which causes sudden and severe pain. Unstable SCFE requires urgent treatment.

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What are the signs and symptoms of slipped capital femoral epiphysis??

The signs and symptoms of SCFE vary depending on the extent of the child or teen’s condition:


  • Intermittent pain in the groin, hip and/or thigh
  • Worsening pain with activity (e.g., walking or running)
  • Limping or other difficulty walking


  • Sudden onset of pain
  • Inability to put weight on the affected leg
  • Outward turning of the affected leg
  • Discrepancy in leg length

The symptoms of SCFE may resemble other conditions or problems with the hip. It is important your child sees their doctor for diagnosis.

What causes slipped capital femoral epiphysis?

The cause of SCFE is currently unknown. While the cause is unknown, there are several risk factors:

  • Obesity
  • Family history of SCFE
  • Endocrine or metabolic disorders (e.g., hypo- or hyperthyroidism)

How is slipped capital femoral epiphysis diagnosed?

  • Physical exam
  • X-rays
  • Additional imaging if necessary:
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

How is slipped capital femoral epiphysis treated?

If your child receives a diagnosis of SCFE, they are not allowed to put weight on their hip—even if it doesn’t hurt. In most cases, SCFE patients undergo surgery within 24 to 48 hours.

It is important to treat this condition as soon as possible. Connecticut Children’s can help if you suspect your child has SCFE. Doctors at Connecticut Children’s are the only healthcare providers in the state of Connecticut that perform surgical hip dislocation and osteotomy surgeries to address this condition.