Diagnosis and Treatment of Pelvis Fractures in Wake County

What is a Pelvis Fracture?

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. Nonsurgical treatment is a common method of dealing with mild fractures, but severe pelvic fractures require surgical intervention. Our orthopedic specialists at Raleigh Orthopaedic are here to support you if you have recently fractured your pelvis. Learn more about how we diagnose and treat pelvic fractures in Wake County below.

Causes of 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 a pelvic fracture, especially in older people with osteoporosis. Such individuals 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 fractures 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 a risk factor for pelvis fractures. Additionally, this type of injury is common in post-menopausal women.

Symptoms of a Pelvis Fracture

Seeking prompt and proper care for a pelvis fracture is key to a successful recovery, no matter how the injury occurred. This painful injury can cause the following symptoms, which should prompt you to schedule an appointment with an orthopedic specialist as soon as possible.

  • Intense pain in the hip and groin region, which increases with movement 
  • Low back pain
  • Sciatica
  • Numbness, burning, or tingling in the pelvic region
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Abdominal pain and issues  

How are Pelvis Fractures Diagnosed?

When you visit your doctor with concerns of a pelvic fracture, they will start with a physical examination of the pelvis and hip. They will ask you about your medical history and your symptoms, including the severity of your pain and when it began. They will also confirm your medical history and ask if you have any preexisting medical conditions, like osteoporosis. Hard tissue disruptions like pelvic fractures typically need radiographic imaging to reach an accurate diagnosis. If your doctor suspects a pelvic fracture, they may recommend traditional X-rays and other scans.

Treatment Options for Pelvis Fractures

The pelvic region is a weight-bearing joint held in place by robust bones of the hip and pelvis. Management of pelvis fractures relies on the severity of the break and the extent of displacement.

Nonsurgical Treatment

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Mild and stable pelvis fractures can be managed without surgical intervention. Non-surgical treatment options include:

Movement can worsen the symptoms of a pelvic fracture. Mild fractures heal independently; therefore, limiting movement to immobilize the fracture is crucial to avoid exerting pressure on the area. 

Painkiller medicines are essential for achieving pain relief in cases of pelvic fractures. Drugs like ibuprofen, piroxicam, and naproxen can provide some relief. A common complication of a 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 as part of your recovery process. 

Walking Aids 
Crutches and walkers can take weight off your legs, preventing pressure on the pelvis. Older individuals 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.

Surgical Treatment Options

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Severe, unstable fractures usually need surgery to repair. The prevalent surgical techniques employed for pelvis fractures include:

Skeletal Traction 
Skeletal traction involves surgically pinning a metal implant to the thigh bone/shin bone. An external traction pulley is used to pull/realign the broken parts of the pelvis. 

External Fixation
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 Fracture Recovery Time

Pelvis fractures generally take time to heal. Your doctor will likely prescribe painkillers for temporary pain relief following 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 (usually around six weeks). Whether your doctor recommends nonsurgical or surgical treatment methods for your pelvic fracture, we will ensure that your recovery instructions are clear. The members of our team are here to provide support every step of the way, from your initial diagnosis to your complete recovery.

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. Strengthening of the bones and muscles is crucial in preventing fractures of all kinds. This can be achieved by following a healthy diet that includes calcium, and performing light exercises whenever possible. You should always be sure to stretch before exercising or playing a sport. Bone-strengthening medications can also be taken for extra support. Your doctor may recommend the use of walking aids as well. Finally, quitting smoking is another great way to prevent bone loss in the pelvis and other areas of the body.

Expert Hip Care at Raleigh Orthopaedic

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Request an Appointment Today!

If you are experiencing pain in your pelvic region, don’t ignore it! Call Raleigh Orthopaedic and schedule an appointment at one of our several clinic locations across Wake County, NC. Our expert hip specialists will provide support every step of the way, accurately diagnosing your condition and guiding you toward the best next steps for recovery. We also offer online appointment scheduling for patient convenience. We want to help you find relief from hip pain – schedule an appointment with a Raleigh Orthopaedic specialist today!