Pelvis Fractures: Symptoms, Treatment, & Recovery
Pelvis, or pelvic, fractures are rare, accounting for 1.5 to 3% of all skeletal injuries. This uncommon fracture can occur in one or multiple bones of the pelvis, including the sacrum, coccyx, and hip bones.
Treating pelvic fractures is tricky due to the complex anatomical position of the bones. Non-surgical treatment is a common method of dealing with mild fractures, but severe pelvic fractures require surgical intervention.
What Causes Pelvis Fractures?
Pelvis fractures are usually the result of high-impact incidents that cause a blow to the hip and pelvic bones. Weak bones (low density) can also lead to pelvic fracture, especially in older people with osteoporosis. Such people are more prone to pelvic fractures, which may occur from a minor fall or even everyday movements that exert pressure on the pelvis.
Pelvis Fractures Risk Factors
A significant risk factor for pelvis fracture is a bone-weakening disease, like osteoporosis. Osteoporotic pelvic fractures have a mortality rate ranging from 9.5 to 27%. Rigorous athletic activities are also risk factors for pelvis fractures. The condition is common in post-menopausal women.
Symptoms of Pelvis Fractures
A pelvis fracture is a painful condition that usually presents in the following ways:
- Intense pain in the hip and groin region, which increases with movement
- Low back pain
- Numbness, burning or tingling in the pelvic region
- Difficulty peeing
- Abdominal pain and issues
How Are Pelvis Fractures Diagnosed?
Your doctor will begin with a physical examination of the affected pelvis and hip and inquire about the severity of the pain. They will also confirm your medical history and if you have any preexisting medical conditions, like osteoporosis.
Hard tissue disruptions like pelvic fractures typically need radiographic imaging to diagnose. If your doctor suspects a pelvic fracture, they might recommend traditional X-rays and other scans.
Treatment for Pelvic Fractures
The pelvic region is a weight-bearing joint held in place by robust bones of the hope and pelvis. Management of pelvis fractures relies on the bones’ severity and extent of displacement.
Mild and stable pelvis fractures can be managed without surgical intervention. Non-surgical treatment options include:
Movement can worsen the symptoms of pelvic fracture. Mild fractures heal independently; therefore, limiting movement to immobilize the fracture is crucial to avoid exerting pressure on the site.
Painkiller medicines are essential for achieving pain relief. Drugs like ibuprofen, piroxicam, and naproxen can provide some relief. A common complication of pelvic fracture is the release of fat molecules/blood clots in the leg veins. To prevent this, your doctor might recommend blood thinners and anticoagulant medicines.
Crutches and walkers can take the weight off your legs, preventing pressure on the pelvis. Old people are recommended to use a wheelchair for maximum safety.
Home-based physiotherapy is a very effective non-interventional treatment modality in managing pelvis and hip fractures. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and physical therapy lead to significant improvement in symptoms.
Severe, unstable fractures usually need surgery to repair. The prevalent surgical techniques employed for pelvis fractures include:
Skeletal traction involves surgically pinning a metal implant to the thigh bone/shin bone, and an external traction pulley is used to pull/realign the broken parts.
External fixation involves small incisions into your muscle to attach pins/screws to the pelvic bone. During the procedure, pins or screws protrude from the skin and are attached to a fixation bar outside of the body. The stabilizing frame aids in healing.
Open Reduction and Internal Fixation (ORIF)
Open reduction involves exposing and surgically reducing the pelvic bone. After the reduction, the fragments of the bone are repositioned, and metal plates and screws are used to fixate the bones.
Pelvis Fractures Recovery Time
Pelvis fractures generally take time to recover. Your doctor will likely prescribe painkillers for temporary pain relief following the surgery.
Usually, a pelvis fracture treated with surgery takes four to six months to heal. However, most individuals can return to work after a few weeks (six weeks).
How Can I Prevent Pelvis Fractures?
While pelvis fractures might not always be preventable, there are several measures you can adopt to reduce your risk:
- Use walking aids
- Strengthen your bones by eating a healthy diet, including calcium
- Do stretching before playing
- Quit smoking to prevent speedy bone loss
- Strengthen your muscles with light exercises
- Take bone-strengthening medications
Expert Hip Care at Raleigh Orthopaedic
If you are experiencing pain in your pelvic region, don’t ignore it! Call Raleigh Orthopaedic and schedule your appointment at one of our six locations across Wake County, NC, and our expert hip specialists will accurately diagnose your condition and guide you toward the best way forward!