How Do You Treat a Fractured Pelvis?

Reviewed on 4/29/2021

A fractured pelvis is when the pelvic bone is broken. Mild pelvic fractures can be treated with rest, ice, pain relievers, crutches, a walker, a wheelchair, or over-the-counter (OTC) pain medicines. Severe pelvic fractures can be treated with a splint, prescription pain medication, blood thinners (anticoagulants), surgery, or physical therapy.
A fractured pelvis is when the pelvic bone is broken. Mild pelvic fractures can be treated with rest, ice, pain relievers, crutches, a walker, a wheelchair, or over-the-counter (OTC) pain medicines. Severe pelvic fractures can be treated with a splint, prescription pain medication, blood thinners (anticoagulants), surgery, or physical therapy.

A fractured pelvis is the term used when the pelvic bone located at the base of the spine is broken. In many cases, the injury that causes a fractured pelvis can also damage organs, nerves, and blood vessels near the pelvis.

There are different types of pelvic fractures, and they may be categorized as:

  • Stable: only one break in the pelvic ring and the broken ends of the bones line up 
  • Unstable: generally, there are two or more breaks in the pelvic ring and the ends of the broken bones do not line up correctly (displacement)

Treatment for a fractured pelvis depends on the type of pelvic fracture and its severity.

Mild pelvic fractures may be treated with:

  • Rest
  • Ice 
    • Use a cold gel pack, bag of ice, or bag of frozen vegetables 
    • Apply to the injured area every 1 to 2 hours, for 15 minutes each time
    • Put a thin towel between the ice and the skin
    • Use the ice for at least 6 hours after the injury
    • It may be helpful to ice for up to 2 days following an injury
  • Walking aids such as crutches or a walker for up to three months
  • Wheelchair if the injuries are above both legs
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medicines 

Severe pelvic fractures may be treated with:

  • A splint or other binding material around the pelvis to hold it in place
  • Prescription pain medication
  • Blood thinners (anticoagulants) to prevent blood clots from forming in the deep veins of the pelvis and legs
  • Surgery to put the pelvis back in the correct position
    • External fixation: stabilizes the pelvic area
    • Skeletal traction: a pulley system of weights and counterweights that helps realign the pieces of bone
    • Open reduction and internal fixation: displaced bone fragments are repositioned (reduced) into their normal alignment and then held together with screws or metal plates attached to the outer surface of the bone
  • Physical therapy following surgery to strengthen muscles around the pelvis and work on bending, walking, and climbing stairs

What Are Symptoms of a Fractured Pelvis?

Symptoms of a pelvic fracture can include:

  • Pain
    • Pain is worsened by moving the hip or walking
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Trouble walking or pain when walking
  • Weakness or loss of feeling in the legs

What Causes a Fractured Pelvis?

Causes of a fractured pelvis can include: 

  • High-energy trauma
    • Motor vehicle accident
    • Crush accident
    • Fall from a significant height (such as a ladder)
  • Bone insufficiency
  • Other causes
    • Sports injuries
    • Minor falls

How Is a Fractured Pelvis Diagnosed?

A fractured pelvis is diagnosed with a patient history and physical examination, along with imaging tests such as: 

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Reviewed on 4/29/2021
References
https://www.uptodate.com/contents/pelvic-fracture-the-basics?search=fractured%20pelvis&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~123&usage_type=default&display_rank=1

https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/pelvic-fractures