The pelvis is an almost ring-like bony structure present at the lowest end of your trunk. There are three bones each on both sides of the pelvis- ilium, ischium and pubis. These bones grow together as we age. The pelvis is joined to the sacrum, a triangular bone at the base of your spine, with the help of ligaments, forming a cavity below your rib cage. On both sides of this cavity is the hollow acetabulum, which is the socket of the hip joint.
The pelvic ring houses many reproductive and digestive organs as well as blood vessels and nerves traveling to your legs. The pelvis is also a connecting point for those muscles which run up towards the trunk and down towards the legs. It is obvious that a pelvic fracture can result in considerable bleeding, damage to internal organs and injury to nerves.
What may cause a pelvic fracture
A pelvic fracture may be the result of a fall, probably while playing some sport or slipping on a wet floor or while climbing stairs or a high-energy incident like a motor vehicle accident.
Sometimes, avulsion pelvic fracture might occur along with strong and sudden contraction of muscles and might be mistaken for pulled muscles. These muscles may tear away a tiny piece of ischium where the hamstring muscles are attached. This fracture does not cause injury to internal organs.
Elderly people who already have osteoporosis are also susceptible to have pelvic fractures. A sudden fall may result in an individual bone getting injured while not causing severe damage to the entire pelvic ring structure.
The severity of the fracture and need of surgery depends on the direction of fall and the force with which a person falls. There might be severe pain along with bleeding as well as swelling.
Rehabilitation for pelvic fractures is a very long process. It has been observed that more men suffer from pelvic fractures than women. Also, most pelvic injuries occur in age groups 15-30 years and 50-70 years. Nearly 3% of all pelvic fractures are open fractures and have higher mortality and morbidity rates than closed fractures.
Diagnosis of a pelvic fracture
X-rays from different angles are needed to determine the extent to which the bones are out of place. A CT scan can help find out the extent of injury. Examination of nerves and blood vessels to the legs is also important to find out if they are injured.
Treatment for a pelvic fracture
In case of avulsion fracture, there is no need for surgery. Crutches or walker may help you move around and it may be a few months before the bones are healed and you can put all your weight on your legs. You may also need medication to get relief from pain. Restricted mobility may cause formation of blood clots in the veins in your legs and you may need a blood thinner to avoid this risk.
If the fracture is the result of a high-energy fall, it may cause severe bleeding and can be life-threatening. Doctors generally stabilize the pelvic region with the help of an external fixator. After this, they examine and assess the internal injuries to nerves, blood vessels and internal organs. There could also be an infection because of internal injuries. Depending on the patient’s condition, the doctors decide about the course of treatment to follow.
For some fractures, the external fixator might be sufficient while some may need traction. Most stable fractures heal without much complication. For unstable fractures, plates and screws might be inserted surgically.
If internal injuries are appropriately addressed, the fractures heal well within a few months. You may limp for some months, which is obvious because of the damage to the muscles in the pelvic region and around the pelvis. These muscles may need a long time to gain strength. There could also be associated problems like restricted mobility and sexual dysfunction.
Author bio: Sameer Gupta is an experienced healthcare writer loves writing informative articles that inform patients about the effectiveness of chiropractic care. He and his team offer valuable insights into the latest chiropractic treatment options and their effectiveness on varied conditions.