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Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis - Topic Overview

What is a slipped capital femoral epiphysis?

A slipped capital femoral epiphysis occurs when the upper end of the thigh bone (femur) slips at the area where the bone is growing (growth plate or physis) and does not fit in the hip socket correctly. The condition is most common in young teenagers. It's more common in boys than in girls.

What causes a slipped capital femoral epiphysis?

Rapid growth and an imbalance of hormones during adolescence may cause a slipped capital femoral epiphysis. An injury or a rapid increase in body weight or height may trigger symptoms.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms usually begin between ages 10 and 16 years. They may begin earlier in girls than in boys. Symptoms vary in severity and speed of progression. Symptoms may include:

  • Hip tenderness or pain and decreased movement during the early stages of the condition.
  • Increased pain when the toes are turned in toward midline (internal rotation of the hip).
  • Mild discomfort in the groin, thigh, or knee while walking or running. Rest relieves this discomfort.
  • Knee pain. Sometimes knee pain is the first symptom.
  • Stiffness and a limp, especially when tired.
  • Muscle spasms.
  • Mild to severe pain.

How is a slipped capital femoral epiphysis diagnosed?

Your doctor will conduct a medical history to learn how long you have had your symptoms and a physical exam to identify your symptoms. X-rays and sometimes CT scan or MRI are used to confirm a diagnosis of slipped capital femoral epiphysis.

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