Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis (SCFE)


Article by John Miller


What is Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis (SCFE)?

Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis (SCFE), also known as Slipped Upper Femoral Epiphysis (SUFE), is a hip joint disorder that typically affects adolescents.

What Causes SCFE?

Weakness in the growth plate, also known as the epiphyseal plate, located at the top of the femur or thigh bone causes it. This weakness can cause the head of the femur to slip backwards and downwards. As a result, the affected individual may experience gradual onset of pain in the groin, hip, thigh, or knee, as well as limping and restricted hip joint range of motion. In addition, SCFE can cause the affected leg to shorten, resulting in differences in leg length.

While the exact cause of SCFE is unknown, there is speculation that increased weight and hormones may play a role. Some cases may cause it due to trauma or a fall, and doctors diagnose it by conducting a clinical examination, X-ray, and possibly a CT scan.

SCFE Treatment

Treatment usually requires surgery, where an Orthopaedic Surgeon inserts a screw to stabilise the growth plate and prevent further slipping of the femoral head.

Post-Operative Rehabilitation

After surgery, your child will need crutches or a wheelchair and cannot fully bear weight for approximately six weeks until the growth plate fuses. Once the growth plate has fused, surgeons can usually remove the screws.

Resting from intense activities like running and contact sports will be necessary to let the growth plate fuse.

Once the growth plate is stable, a gradual return to loaded activities can begin. Post-operative physiotherapy can assist in recovery by providing advice and education on appropriate post-operative activity, hip mobility exercises, progressive hip stability and strengthening exercises, and assisting with a return to sport.

At PhysioWorks, our physiotherapists can help your child get back on track following surgery. Please contact us if you have any questions or would like your child to start a rehabilitation program.

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