Facts about a Broken Pelvis
One of the most painful of all fractures is a broken pelvis. That’s because so many bones and ligaments connect with one another in the pelvic area. The pelvis is shaped like a ring, and within this ring are many reproductive and digestive organs. There are three different bones which make up the sides of the pelvis, and these are called the ilium, ischium, and pubis.
When we age, these bones fuse together. Ligaments connect the pelvis to the sacrum at the back of the spine. Under the ribs, this makes a bowl-like cavity, and both sides of it have an open cup that serves as the hip joint socket. The pelvis is the place where many of the muscles attach that travel down into the legs. There are many nerves and blood vessels in this area as well.
That’s why if you injure or fracture your pelvis, there can be serious complications, including internal bleeding and damage to nerves and organs. One of the groups of people most susceptible to a broken pelvis are teenagers. That’s because they can be very active in activities, such as sports, before the pelvis has stabilized with adequate growth.
A muscle pull can actually tear away the muscle from the pelvis. And, many injuries thought to be pulled muscles are really fractures to the pelvis, known as avulsions. Sometimes the hamstrings can pull away a piece of bone from the ischium, which is the spot at which the hamstrings attach to the pelvis. This is not a serious injury or one that could cause internal damage or instability.
Along with teenagers, the elderly are another group likely to suffer from a broken pelvis. The main cause for the break is usually osteoporosis, which weakens the bones. The fracture is usually the result of a fall, from a standing position to the floor or ground. Two of the most frequent are falling when getting in or out of the bathtub or when going downstairs.
The biggest cause of all for a broken pelvis is high-speed force, as in an automobile accident. These are the type of pelvic fractures which cause the most problems as well. That’s because not only the pelvic bones but organs and nerves are crushed. This often leads to internal bleeding and if the bleeding cannot be controlled or the organ cannot be surgically repaired, the broken pelvis can result in the death of the person.
A broken pelvis is very painful and can be bruised and swollen as well. Usually there is difficulty walking and the person many turn his or her knee or hip in an awkward position just to lessen the pain. If there is bleeding, such as from a forceful injury, the victim may go into shock. An ambulance should be called and these people should be taken immediately to a hospital emergency room for treatment. Often, in these types of cases, other parts of the body have sustained injury as well.
Diagnosis of a broken pelvis cannot be accomplished without x-rays. They will show how much the bones have moved and whether surgery is necessary or the pelvis can heal on its own. Sometimes a CT, computed tomography, is done to further ascertain how much damage is there. Blood vessels and nerves will be examined as well.
If you have a stable broken pelvis, such as one which might be found in a teenage athlete or a break due to osteoporosis, surgery will not be needed but you will have to use crutches or a walker to keep weight off of the injury. Especially in the elderly, the fracture can immobilize a person for several months. Sometimes blood thinners are given to stop the development of clots which can form when movement is limited.
In cases where there has been serious injury due to crashing or crushing, sometimes screws are inserted on each side of the pelvis and it is attached to a frame (external fixator). Other times a broken pelvis may mean being in traction or require surgery to take pressure off of nerves or repair the pelvis.
A broken pelvis is a serious injury that always requires medical treatment. There is going to be a long recovery process where mobility will be an issue.