Pelvis Fractures: Cause & Treatments

The pelvis consists of a series of ring-like structure of bones located at the lower end of the trunk. There are three ones supporting the side of the pelvis namely the ilium, ischium and pubis. Ligaments and tendons join the pelvis to the sacrum located at the bottom of the spine, creating a bowl-like cavity just below the rib cage. On each side is the acetabulum, a hollow cup serving as the socket for the hip joint.

Many digestive and reproductive organs are located within the pelvic ring as well as large nerves and blood vessels passing through it. The pelvis acts as an attachment point for muscles reaching into the legs up into the trunk of the body. With all these important structures running through the pelvis, a fracture can be serious and life threatening.

Causes

The group of people most susceptible to pelvis fracture are those heavily involved in sports. Very often, a muscle is pulled and these may go undetected. Such undetected pulls might be avulsion fractures of the pelvis due to sudden muscle contractions. In avulsion fracture, a small piece of bone from the ischium located at the hamstring muscles region is broken and torn away by the muscles. This fracture however do not render the pelvis unstable. Most pelvis fractures can also be caused by high impact forces such as those sustained during a motor vehicle accident or falls from great heights. Depending on the impact and height, such injuries can be deadly.

Nonsurgical treatment

Nonsurgical is usually administered for stable fractures such as the avulsion fracture mentioned above. Stable fractures will heal on their own without the need for surgery. However, the patient will need the assistance of a walking aid such as a crutch or walker for at least three months while the bones heal. To lessen pain, doctors may prescribe painkillers. Due to the significant reduced amount of movement and prolonged periods of inactivity, blood-thinners may also be prescribed to reduce the chances of blood clot formation.

Surgical treatment

Pelvis fractures resulting from trauma are life threatening due to extensive bleeding and surgery is inevitable. An external fixator may be used to stabilise the pelvic area while the surgeon performs surgery. The external fixator has long screws that are drilled into the pelvic bones.

A pelvis fracture will heal well if treatment is administered in a timely manner. Some patients may walk with a slight limp months after surgery due to damage to the muscles surrounding the nerves. However, this is only temporary. In serious cases, patients may suffer from impaired mobility or even sexual dysfunction due to damage to nerves and organs.