Pelvic fractures occur when one or more of the bones of the pelvis get fractured or broken. The pelvis consists of a group of bones shaped like a butterfly that are located at the bottom of the spine. Some of the main bones in the pelvis are the ischium bones, ilium bones and pubis bones. There are, however, many more bones in the pelvis. The pelvis consist of a center cavity and one major ring and two small rings of bone that work to help support parts of the body like the bladder, rectum, and intestines and in women the uterus and vagina.
Pelvic fractures are very uncommon. Of all fractures, pelvic fractures only make up about 1 to 6%. This is very fortunate because although they may range in severity, some pelvic fractures can become very serious. When the smaller rings of the pelvis are affected, the fractures are usually minor, whereas disruption of the large ring can be very serious. Mild pelvic fractures will usually heal in a few weeks, but major pelvic fractures can be very serious, even life threatening, and my need emergency surgery and a long recovery period. Major pelvic fractures often damage other internal organs in the body.
Pelvic fractures are either stable or unstable and open or closed. Stable pelvic fractures involve just one break in the ring and limited bleeding, whereas unstable fractures involve two or more breaks in the pelvic ring along with moderate to heavy bleeding. The pelvic fractures are either open or closed depending on if the skin was broken on the abdomen.
There may be a few different causes of pelvic fractures, but the major cause is accidents involving high speed, whether it’s from a car accident or a fall from a great distance. Generally, the harder the force, the better the chance for a severe pelvic fracture. Pelvic fractures can also happen suddenly from minor accidents or falls in people with weak bones such as patients suffering from osteoporosis. Occasionally, pelvic fractures happen because of sporting accidents, but this is rare.
The major symptoms of pelvic fractures are pain in the groin, lower back or hip as well as pain that gets worse when you’re moving the legs or walking. Numbness in the groin or legs, abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding, difficulty urinating are also some symptoms you may see in pelvic fractures. Diagnosis of a pelvic fracture usually comes from an X-ray of the pelvic area as well as observing symptoms characteristic of pelvic injuries. Occasionally, the doctor may order a CT scan or blood and urine tests as well.
Treatment for pelvic fractures will vary depending on the severity of the fracture. Major fractures may need immediate emergency surgery, while minor pelvic fractures may just need bed rest and pain medication.