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How Do I Treat a Pelvic Fracture?

An X-ray of the pelvis.
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  • Written By: Erin Oxendine
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 22 July 2014
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Pelvic fractures can be extremely painful and may involve torn muscles or ligaments. There are primarily two ways that doctors treat these types of fractures: surgical and non-surgical. Since a pelvic fracture usually occurs from blunt force injury, a person with this condition may have other injuries that require emergency treatment.

At the hospital or medical facility, the patient will undergo x-rays and possibly other scans to determine if the pelvic fracture is a stable fracture, which normally will not need surgery. A stable fracture means that there is one crack in the pelvic ring and no internal injuries. The patient may need some type of assistance, such as crutches, to get around, and the doctor will probably prescribe pain medication. Patients with limited movement might also need blood thinners to prevent blood clots from forming in the legs.

An individual who has an unstable pelvic fracture often has more than one break in the pelvic ring along with internal bleeding and organ damage. This kind of injury will typically need immediate surgery. During the procedure, the doctor will repair the injuries and the patient will most likely need a fixation device in the pelvic area. Surgeons often use surgical screws and plates to hold the broken bones in place and connect the pelvic ring with the hip and thigh areas.

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Once the surgeon has fixed the pelvic fracture, the patient will generally remain in the hospital for a few days or until any other injuries have healed. Some patients with pelvic fractures are placed in traction after the surgery to keep the body still. Doctors will typically prescribe antibiotics to prevent infections and medication for pain.

Patients will need to return to the surgeon for follow-up care so that the doctor can check for signs of infection and to check the patient's progress. Most doctors advise patients to keep off their feet as much as possible and to try not to put any weight on the lower body. It usually takes several months before individuals are able to fully stand up on their own after experiencing a pelvic fracture.

Doctors also suggest that people who have stable and unstable pelvic fractures visit an orthopedist for additional treatment such as physical therapy. The orthopedist may want the person to do certain exercises after the fracture have healed to strengthen the muscles and increase flexibility. Some elderly individuals may use a walker or wheelchair to help with mobility.

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