A pelvic fracture is defined as one or more breaks, also known as fractures, of the bones that make up the pelvis. Several organs, blood vessels and nerves are located in this area. Because of this, a pelvic fracture is a serious injury that needs immediate care to prevent current and future complications.
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Pelvic fractures are caused by:
- Major impacts to the body, such as motorcycle or car accidents
- High-impact sport injuries
Factors that may increase your chance of a pelvic fracture include:
- History of falls
- Decreased muscle strength
- History of trauma in young children and adolescents, especially during sports
Symptoms of a pelvic fracture include:
- Pelvic pain
- Pain upon walking or inability to walk
- Swelling and bruising
- History of trauma in young children
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a doctor who is a trauma specialist and/or a doctor who is a bone specialist.
Tests may include:
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
Imaging tests can evaluate the pelvic region and surrounding structures. These may include:
- CT scan (CAT scan)
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
- Abdominal ultrasound
A pelvic fracture is a serious injury that may be complicated by injuries to other parts of your body. Proper treatment can prevent long-term complications. Treatment depends on how serious the fracture is, but may include:
Initial treatment manages life-threatening problems, such as bleeding or shock. Your fracture may be held in place with a sheet wrap or an external fixation device. With an external fixation device, screws are inserted through the bones and connect to a frame on the outside of your body.
Traction may be used to realign and stabilize the fracture if you can't have surgery right away.
Stable fractures heal without surgery. Unstable fractures are treated with surgery. Some fractures can be set with an external fixation device. Others may require repair with internal pins, screws or plates.
Extra support may be needed to protect, support and keep your pelvic bone in line while it heals. A walker or crutches can help you move around while keeping weight off your legs and pelvis.
Prescription or over-the-counter medications may be given to help reduce inflammation and pain. Blood thinners reduce the risk of blood clots.
Check with your doctor before taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or aspirin.
Rest and Recovery
Healing time varies by age and your overall health. Young people and those in better overall health heal faster. It may take several months for an unstable fracture to heal.
Complications of a pelvic fracture can be temporary or permanent. These include:
- Nerve damage, which can affect
- Bladder function
- Sexual function
You will need to adjust your activities while your pelvic bone heals, but complete rest is rarely required.
You may be referred to physical therapy or rehabilitation to start range-of-motion and strength exercises. Don't return to activities or sports until your doctor gives you permission.
To help reduce your chance of a pelvic fracture:
- Prevent falls by using a stool or stepladder to reach high places. Add handrails along stairways and place nonslip mats in your bathroom, shower and under carpets.
- Wear a seatbelt in any vehicle your drive or ride in.
- Never drive if you have been drinking or ride with anyone who has.
- Use proper safety gear for any high-risk sports you participate in.
- Maintain your muscle strength with regular exercise.
Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.