Your pelvic bones provide support for your internal organs and a sturdy base for your legs. They are also a common casualty in a car wreck.
“There’s two common types of pelvic fractures. One is patients that have some sort of force that’s squeezing them from the side, say a side impact or a t-bone type injury. And then the other main type of pelvic fracture is a fracture of the hip socket,” says Dr. Patrick Leach, orthopedic trauma surgeon on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.
Older people with brittle bones often fall victim to pelvic breaks.
“It can occur from a relatively minor trauma, just falling down, tripping over something. And because maybe the bone quality isn’t as strong as it once was they get fractures a little more easily. Those are more difficult to treat because you don’t have as good of a bone stock to work with,” says Dr. Leach.
The seriousness of a pelvis fracture can vary widely- and so does treatment. Some require plates and screws and while other breaks can heal on their own.
“Some are fairly minor and don’t need to have any surgery. But patients need to keep the weight off their leg for a period of time. And then the more displaced the fractures are, the more invasive procedures that need to be performed. So it can be very debilitating,” says Dr. Leach.
A shattered pelvis, meaning there is more than one broken piece, generally involves surgery, often with an orthopedic trauma surgeon.
“A lot of orthopedists fix broken bones – broken ankles, broken wrists, broken hips – but the more complex fractures, and again particularly fractures of the pelvis or fractures that’s where the additional training comes in to be a...to safely get to those areas and manipulate the boney fragments that are there to get them back into place,” says Dr. Leach.
The most important thing is getting people back on their feet.