Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis | Symptoms


What's the difference between stable and unstable SCFE?

A child is considered to have "stable" SCFE if he or she can walk with or without crutches. More than 90% of cases of SCFE are stable.

A child who can't walk, even with crutches, has "unstable" SCFE. Unstable SCFE often happens after a trauma, such as a sports injury or a fall. Falling can also cause a stable SCFE to become unstable.

What are the symptoms of stable SCFE?

A child who has stable SCFE may first have stiffness in the hip. The stiffness may get better with rest. After a while, the stiffness may turn into a limp, and the child may have pain that comes and goes. The pain is often felt in the groin, the thigh or the knee, and not necessarily in the hip itself.

In the later stages, the child may lose some ability to move the involved hip. This leg will usually twist out. It may look shorter than the other leg. He or she may not be able to play sports or do simple tasks such as bending over to tie his or her shoes. The symptoms may change gradually or rapidly.

What are the symptoms of unstable SCFE?

A child who has unstable SCFE has extreme pain. The pain is similar to what might be felt with a broken bone. The child probably won't be able to move the injured leg. If you think your child has unstable SCFE, don't force the leg to move. That could make the thigh bone slip even more.


Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis by RT Loder (American Family Physician May 01, 1998,

Written by editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 05/98