Atrium Health Navicent Musculoskeletal Care Orthopedic Trauma

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Pelvic Fractures

What is the Pelvis?

The bladder, intestines, genital, kidneys, and rectum are all cushioned and protected by the bone that make up the pelvis. Found at the end of the spinal column, the pelvis bones are connected by ligaments. It has an opening in its center and is shaped in such a way that forms a ring. This bone connects the spine to the legs through the hip joints.

Pelvic Fractures

Pelvic fractures are injuries that can be mild to severe and do not happen as often (only about a 3 percent occurrence) as other types of bone injuries. It is typical for pelvic fractures to occur in two or more locations. This type of fracture can be accompanied by moderate to heavy bleeding. This depends on the severity of the fracture. The need for surgery to treat this injury also depends on the fracture severity.

How Pelvic Fractures Occur

Pelvic fractures usually happen through a lot of force, such as a fall on a hard floor (this happens frequently among the elderly), falls from a height, when the body makes impact with heavy equipment, gets hit by falling objects, has brittle bones caused by osteoporosis, or is involved in a high-speed car or motorcycle accident, for example.


Pelvic fracture symptoms can involve pain in the lower back, hip, or groin. This pain may worsen if the injury is aggravated moving the legs or when walking.

Diagnosis of a Pelvic Fracture

An X-ray is generally the first method an orthopedic doctor will use to locate the fracture. To better visualize all of the fractures of the pelvis that are involved, a CT is obtained.


A stable pelvic injury can heal reliably well, generally 8-12 weeks, and usually does not require surgery. The course of treatment involves pain management (either prescription painkillers or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and sometimes walking with crutches and physical therapy, and on rare occasion, surgery.

Critical pelvic fractures can cause significant damage to the organs located at the site of the injury and often require immediate medical attention. When a severe pelvic fracture occurs, efforts are made to stop internal bleeding, and stabilize the injured person's condition. Surgical intervention to put the pelvis back into proper alignment and hold the bones positions with plates and screws is typically necessary. After the surgery, physical therapy and rehabilitation is commonly needed.